Russia , Moscow /corr. Trend R.Agayev / Trend Correspondent in Moscow interviewed Head of the Azerbaijan State oil Company (ASR), Arif Asgarov
Question: How do you estimate the results of jubilee meeting of CIS Council of Railway Transport in Moscow ?
Answer: The CIS Council of Railway Transport was founded in February 1992. The Council has held 45 meetings over the past 15 years . Russia proposed to conduct a meeting namely in Moscow , which was met with approved satisfaction.
After the collapse of the USSR it was decided to established such Council so that to strengthen and develop the inter-related CIS railway infrastructure. It is indeed very important and now we can state our satisfaction with the level of interaction.
I had several bilateral meetings and we would like to note a fruitful meeting with the President of Russian Railways, Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin. We closely cooperate with the Russian Railways and we have border stations. We needed a meeting to discuss the current state of mutual relationships and prospective directions. Too many issues concerning bilateral cooperation between ASR and Russian Railways were discussed, and particularly, we discussed the South-North project, over which we have been working for several years.
It was decided to organize a meeting of representatives from Russian and Iranian Railway administrations in this issue. Proposals by the Azerbaijan side on the project remains in force - after the resolution of the issue on Gazvin-Astara route, Azerbaijan is prepared to finance the construction of a route and build a bridge via river which will connect Azerbaijani city Astara to the Iranian city Astara.
Russia is very much interested in the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. It was noted that the volume allocated for the North-South project has nothing to do with the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway route. Russia wants to participate in this project, while Russia has not come out with any proposal in this respect yet. Now the talks are underway.
Question: What number of new locomotives does the ASR plan to purchase in 2007?
Answer: We function in accordance to a program on development by 2010 and locomotives, electric locomotives and diesel locomotives should be purchased, the park must be renewed. We propose to get 10 locomotives a year, as well as repair the existing ones. It will be carried out at the expense of ASR funds, as well as with the help of state investments, credits allotted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank.
Question: What amount of credit does the ASR plans to receive this year? The EBRD is said to allocate $200mln to Azerbaijani railway.
Answer: I should say it is not dealt with $200mln in the interaction between ASR and EBRD, but only $30mln. The ASR actively cooperates with the EBRD on this issue and the credit will be directed at renewal of the locomotive economy, as well as purchase of some machines for needs of the railway economy. For the time being it is difficult for us to allot loan this year, but we are working in this direction. We mainly cooperate with two banks - the EBRD and the World Bank.
Question: What is the progress with the change of form of ownership of the railway, i.e. its transition to joint-stock company?
Answer: We are working over this issue. Our agenda includes an item on transition of the ASR to a joint-stock company in the near future. I think it will be carried out either this year or next year.
Question: What is ASR's forecast on cargo deliveries in 2007?
Answer: Within the framework of the ASR shares with the Railway Administration of Kazakhstan the top places per increase of deliveries were in 2006. Increase made up 13% and it was marked in a meeting of the CIS Council in Moscow . In 2005 the amount of deliveries comprised 26.5mln tons, while in 2006 the figure exceeded to 30mln.
In 2007 we plan to deliver 33mln tons of cargo. As to tariffs, the ASR raised an issue at the Tariff Council on increase of tariffs. It is grounded and related with increase of energy prices at the beginning of the year. The ASR uses energy resources and presented its forecasts on increase of tariffs. This issue will be discussed at the Tariff Council of Azerbaijan.