Kazakhstan considers Azerbaijan as a key state in Caucasus region Kazakh PM

Kazakhstan considers Azerbaijan as a key state in Caucasus region  Kazakh PM

Exclusive interview of Trend with the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Danial Ahmatov

Question: What are the perspectives of the Azerbaijan-Kazakhstan cooperation? Which spheres are more perspective?

Answer: Kazakhstan continues regarding Azerbaijan as a key country in the Caucasus region. It is a perspective partner in the implementation of oil and gas projects, transport and communications. Besides, the cooperation in the provision of security in the Caspian and counteraction in the new security challenge in the Caspian are also of no less importance. The constructive interaction of our countries in different organizations within the framework of international organizations, including the OSCE, UN, CIS, OIC and ECO are also important.
In this connection Kazakhstan continues a policy directed at further development of economic, political, and cultural relationships between our countries. The bright example is the constructive political dialogue and concrete agreement on the level of presidents and governments. Over the past year the bilateral cooperation has been upgraded considerably.
The same time, the two sides should intensify the implementation of the agreement achieved during Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayevs official visit to Azerbaijan in spring 2005, as well as the resolutions of the 4th meeting of Intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation, which sat in Baku almost over a month.
Major efforts by the sides should be directed at the development of priority spheres of cooperation. It is dealt with the transportation of hydrocarbons, chemical industry and oil and gas machine building.
One of the more perspective spheres of bilateral cooperation both from the economic and political aspects is the development of Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan energy dialogue. With consideration of coincidence in the tasks set for the two countries it is necessary to put an accent on efforts of the sides on diversification of ways for development of mutual relationships.
In this context the establishment of joint enterprises in the energy field, including the crude refinery and production of ready product seem more actual. The development of oil-gas-chemical industry of the country excites special interest.
The consolidation of bilateral cooperation in the transport-communications sector, where still non-utilized opportunities exist also excites definite interest.
First of all it is worth to pay attention to the implementation of projects directed at further improvement of transit-transport potential between Europe and Asia with the use advantages of the Caspian Sea. Thus, at present the project on the construction of the Aktau-Baku fibre-optic cable line via the sea bottom is under implementation.
Moreover, the expansion of presence of Kazakh companies in the Azerbaijani telecommunications market is also worth attention.
The inter-regional cooperation is worth to be mentioned as well. It should be strengthened by all means. In this direction we have achieved definite successes. However, the Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan governments ought to take further steps to intensify the interosculation of business and capital in the spheres of mutual interests.
The culture-humanitarian cooperation of the two countries within the framework of international organizations such as TURKSOY and ECO, as well as under bilateral agreements, continues successfully. Within the framework of TURKSOY we regularly organize exhibitions and concerts in the performance of art masters, international scientific symposiums, roundtables and seminars with the participation of representatives of intelligentsia and public of the two countries.

Question: Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have recently discussed opportunities for construction of subsea gas pipeline via the Caspian Sea for Kazakh oil export to Europe. Which factors condition the implementation of these projects?

Answer: We estimate the project too perspective. It meets Kazakhstans policy on transportation of hydrocarbons to the foreign energy markets through many-vector directions
A concept on the development of gas industry of Kazakhstan till 2015 specifies the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Turkey as one of possible export routes for export of Kazakh gas to Europe via Turkey.
The same time, the implementation of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline represents some risks. First of all it is juridical risk linked with the indefiniteness of the Caspian legal status, which directly impacts on the policy on construction of a gas pipeline via the Caspian Sea.
Secondly, this is political risk of possible confrontation in the Kazakh-Russian relationships in the sphere of cooperation in the oil and gas industry. Moreover, it is necessary to take into consideration that resource supply of the project is linked with the confirmation of real perspective volumes of Kazakh gas for export.
The last economic risk requires definite competitive capacity as compared to alternative export gas pipelines.

Question: When is it expected to sign an Azerbaijani-Kazakh intergovernmental agreement on joint oil pumping via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline?

Answer: A draft agreement on assistance and support to the oil transportation via the Caspian Sea and territory of Azerbaijan have been scrutinized. Kazakh experts representing relevant ministries and oil company KazMunayGas oil company met in Astana with working group of Azerbaijan late this April.
At present the talks on final coordination of the text of the draft agreement are still continued. We hope the agreement will be signed in the higher level.

Question: How real does the construction of an oil pipeline via the Caspian seabed for export of Kazakh oil to the world markets through the territory of Azerbaijan seem?

Answer: Now we are considering the establishment of oil transportation infrastructure Aktau-Baku (officially named Trans-Caspian system), which will enable to carry out the transportation of Kazakh oil starting from terminal to the Caspian coast of Kazakhstan through vessels or another transport infrastructure to a terminal in the Caspian coast of Azerbaijan.
The Aktau-Baku system will be connected to the Baku Tbilisi-Ceyhan, or other export oil transportation infrastructure, placed in the territory of Azerbaijan.
It is necessary to note that the construction of the pipeline via the Caspian bottom requires coordination with the Caspian countries. In this stage Kazakhstan has not considered a project on the construction of a pipeline via the Caspian seabed for oil export through the territory of Azerbaijan.
The issue requires more detailed consideration and we will return to a topic of construction of the pipeline via the Caspian later.

Question: Kazakhstan stated on its readiness for export of hydrocarbons via some countries such as Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran and China. Which of these directions does you country regard as the most perspective?

Answer: Taking into consideration that Kazakhstan is a continental country and hydrocarbon reserves are apart from world major markets, the resolution of the issue on transportation of hydrocarbons represents priority significance for Kazakhstan. The production of hydrocarbons increases in Kazakhstan year by year and oil export assumes of vital importance for Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan exports its hydrocarbon resources in several directions, while at present the major export route for Kazakhstan runs via the Caspian pipeline company.
Kazakhstan is interested in the development of new alternative directions for oil transportation to world markets and we will consider al directions. It is necessary to note that every of the said directions is regarded as perspective.
For instance, in December 2005 there was built a pipeline from Kazakh village Atasu to the Chinese village Alashankou with the total length of 998km and at present the pipeline is being fulfilled. The large-scale exploitation of the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline will start in May 2006.
The Iranian direction is more perspective from the economic aspect. Exort of Kazakh oil via Iran increases constantly and last year it made up some 1.8 million tons, which is 2 tons more than 2003.
As I told you at present the talks on Kazakhstans joining to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is underway. In case of signing of an agreement on joining this pipeline, Kazakhstan will considerably increase Kazakh export via Azerbaijan.

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