BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 31. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of the 28th International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition (Caspian Oil & Gas) and the 11th Caspian International Power and Green Energy Exhibition (Caspian Power) within the framework of the Baku Energy Week at the Baku Expo Center, Trend reports.
In his opening remarks, ICA Group Advisor Russell Taylor emphasized the importance of the event.
The head of state addressed the event.
Address by President Ilham Aliyev
- Dear ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to the Baku Energy Week. First of all, I’d like to express gratitude to organizers of this important event. As it was mentioned already, it’s almost 30 years since 1994, the Caspian oil and Gas exhibition has been helping Azerbaijan to present its potential to international investors. Back in 1994, it was just the beginning of Heydar Aliyev’s oil strategy. As it was already mentioned, this year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founder of the independent Azerbaijan. And 1994 was not only the year of the first Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition, but also the year of signing the contract of the century, which changed completely the situation in our country, attracted investments, brought economic stability, and led to a more prosperous future of Azerbaijan.
1994 was the year when the 1st Karabakh War ended and a ceasefire agreement was signed. After just 2-3 months, the contract of the century was signed. So, Azerbaijan was considered to be a very risky place. It was newly independent. Independence age was less than 3 years. Not many people in the world knew about our country - where it was situated. And the country was just in the phase of transformation from the Soviet system to market economy. Also, occupation of our territory, a million refugees, and the civil war - all these, of course, were not helpful to investors to come and to invest. So, it took a lot of efforts to persuade our partners - some of them have been partners for almost 30 years like BP, and other members of the 1st consortium - to come and invest in Azerbaijan. We didn’t have export pipelines. We didn’t have any infrastructure. Even civilian infrastructure was absolutely outdated. Under those circumstances, signing the contract of the century in 1994 was the only step, which could provide success, sustainable development, economic independence, and as a result, political independence.
So, the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition in 1994 was the first event, which presented Azerbaijan to the energy community of the world. So we are very grateful to organizers for continuous support. I would like to underline that the Baku energy week is, I think, one of the leading international events in the energy area. To prove my words, it's only enough to mention who is sending the messages to our events - President of United States Biden and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Sunak. So this really is an indicator of a global importance of our event. Using this opportunity I'd like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to their representatives at this event for kind messages and inspiring words.
For almost 30 years, we have successfully cooperated in the energy area. And now, not only in energy area, we are diversifying our cooperation. The US and the UK governments have always been very supportive to all the initiatives of Azerbaijan to develop its resources of the Caspian sea. First, oil and then gas were very helpful in helping us to build energy transportation infrastructure. which actually changed the energy map of Eurasia with oil and gas pipelines. Today, we, as producers, transitors and of course, consumers in Azerbaijan, feel ourselves much safer. Energy security now is definitely a matter of national security and that may be in the top list of national security agenda of the countries.
I am glad to see the representatives from European Union. As you know, EU and Azerbaijan signed the MoU on strategic partnership in the energy field last July in Baku, which is being successfully implemented. We started already and continue the energy dialogue. Together with EU we are co-chairs of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council, which takes place every February in Baku and is instrumental in coordination of all our efforts. Even now, when Southern Gas Corridor already is totally functioning, still, we have new challenges, new tasks. Therefore, the EU-Azerbaijan cooperation has a lot of positive moments in the history and a lot of potential achievements in the future.
We feel ourselves as part of the huge transformation process, transformation in energy sector, and of course, Azerbaijan wants here also not to be left behind. We want to be among the front runners when it comes to the area of renewables. And I’m glad to see that more companies who are involved in renewable sources of energy production are present at our event and, I am sure, as the time passes, the number of this companies will be more and more. So, we started building the oil pipeline, and investing with our partners in oil fields, then gas pipeline and gas fields. The Southern Gas Corridor is our joint historical achievement with 3 500 kilometers of integrated pipeline system, which is an important tool to provide energy security and energy diversification.
Speaking at the Caspian oil and gas show, opening ceremonies, every time I was many times saying that energy security is not only diversification of routes - it is diversification of sources. And now, I think everybody clearly sees that. In our case, it is both diversification of routes, diversification of sources and also very committed teamwork between companies, countries, international financial institutions. So we really work as a team because we have one target - how to strengthen energy security, how to help each other to overcome difficulties, whether they are situational difficulties or can be difficulties of strategic origin. We are very proud that the European Union high-- ranking officials called Azerbaijan, a reliable partner, which is true and call Azerbaijan a Pan-European gas supplier, which also becomes true.
If you look at their events, which happened since the last Baku energy week last year, we'll see that more European countries are actively cooperating with Azerbaijan. I can mention just several of important milestones, which happened after we met here last time. In July, the European Commission and Azerbaijan, as I already said, signed the MoU on strategic partnership in the field of energy. And our plan is to double our gas supply to the European Union market by 2027. This is absolutely realistic. If we look at the dynamic of our gas supply to Europe, we'll see that it was 8 billion cubic meters last year, this year it will be 12 bcm. And this is almost half of our total exports. And the sources to increase up to 20 bcm minimum by 2027 are available. One of them is our major gas field Shahdeniz and we hope to hear very good news from other gas field Absheron. We hope to hear good news about first gas from Absheron soon. I would even say very soon.
We are already totally engaged with our strategic partner BP with respect to production of so-called deep gas from the ACG projects and if everything goes according to our plan, by the end of next year, we will have first gas production. We have many other fields, which are capable to produce additional volume of gas. At the same time, energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy are also a part of our energy dialogue with EU. It will allow us to save gas, which we're using for electricity and supply this gas to international markets.
Among important events of the last year, I would also name inauguration of the Greece-Bulgaria gas interconnector. I was invited to attend the ceremony and as a result of that, Azerbaijan started to supply gas also to Bulgaria. And through Bulgaria, now we are evaluating the opportunities and I'm sure we will start soon supply to the neighboring countries. And actually Romania is already part of our cooperation format. If everything goes again according to the schedule, and all the planned interconnectors are built on time, our gas can reach Hungary and Serbia by the end of the year. Therefore, that will expand our geography of gas supplies.
There was also an important event last December in the area of green energy in Bucharest. Several countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary, Romania as well as the President of the European Commission attended the ceremony. An agreement on green energy and transmission was signed. I'm sure, it will a global project and attract more countries and companies. We already held the first meeting of the steering committee. We came to an agreement that it will be integrated project from offshore winds in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea to European markets, including transmission lines and subsea cable under the Black Sea.
We are now in the phase of expectation of finalization of feasibility study. We think that this project can transport a minimum of 4 gigawatts of green energy to Europe, which will be our additional contribution.
Among important events, I also would like to name the ceremony initiated by the President of Bulgaria, which took place this April in Sofia. The project called solidarity ring including Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia envisages additional interconnectors. Therefore, when European Union high-ranking officials called Azerbaijan a Pan-European gas supplier, they are absolutely right.
The geography of our supplies, I'm sure, will expand because the need for Azerbaijani gas is growing. We've been approached by more than 10 countries during the last year and a half with respect to either increase of supplies or beginning of supplies. And of course, we want to satisfy the needs of all our friends and definitely to coordinate investments with market opportunities. I’d like to underline that it will be also important for international financial institutions to support these projects. Though we know that with respect to the green energy transition, some international financial institutions stop financing projects based on fossil fuel. I think, we need to treat all the issues from realistic point of view. Today, it is clear that without natural gas supplies, energy security cannot be provided to the degree it is needed.
Talking about renewables I’d also like to say that Azerbaijan has enormous potential, which has been already assessed. It's 157 gigawatts of green energy alone in the Caspian Sea, not to mention onshore potential. Two contracts have been already signed with international investors, which will allow us to get almost 500 megawatts within probably next year, or year and a half.
In total, contracts and MoUs equal to 25 gigawatts with respect to investments in green energy in Azerbaijan. Of course, signing MOU does not necessarily mean that it will transform into agreement. Though, the companies we signed a MoU with are the leading companies on a global scale in renewable energy. Therefore, there is a high probability that MoU will transform into agreement. Even if half of what has been signed as MoU is implemented, that will be more than enough. That will be maybe two times more than Azerbaijan consume today domestically. And as I said before, we will use substantial volume of natural gas, which we still use for production of electricity, and will supply our partners.
Of course, there are a lot of things to do. We need to expand TANAP and TAP. We need to have unimpeded access to other European pipeline systems including trans-Balkan pipeline system. And there must be more interconnectors in Europe and it is going. So all these issues must be implemented in coordination because we have to undertake substantial investments. Therefore, of course, we must be sure that the gas - which we extract additionally and did not plan, but decided to extract because of the growing need in Europe - will find its consumers. All that definitely will need continuation of the team work. As I said, though the Southern Gas Corridor project is finished but the Advisory Council on the Southern Gas Corridor takes place every year in February and will take place again in Baku in February because we have new participants. We have new ideas and new plans. If we implement all what we planned so far successfully, we will be successful in the future. Thank you very much.
Assistant US Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt and UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Azerbaijan Baroness Emma Nicholson read out the letters to President Ilham Aliyev by President of the United States of America Joseph Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak respectively.
Director of the Energy Platform Task Force in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy Christina Lobillo Borrero addressed the event.
Following the speeches, the head of state viewed the 28th International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition (Caspian Oil & Gas) and the 11th Caspian International Power and Green Energy Exhibition (Caspian Power) within the framework of the Baku Energy Week at the Baku Expo Center.
President Ilham Aliyev signed the Exhibition’s guest book.
The head of state was presented with commemorative gifts.