Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 5
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
The recent deal on Iran's nuclear program suggests new opportunities for development of trade and economic cooperation with the Islamic Republic, and may bring good dividends, if its advantage is taken in time.
Azerbaijan is one of the first counties to use the new opportunities and discuss with Iran the future mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas.
The two neighboring countries can undoubtedly have considerable benefit from the new political realities.
Earlier this week an Azerbaijani governmental delegation, led by the country's Minister of Economy and Industry Shahin Mustafayev, made a working visit to Iran.
During the visit, the parties discussed cooperation in the oil and gas industry, the investment sector and railway projects.
The sanctions on Iran will be lifted gradually, but it is obvious that the sooner agreements are reached before their removal, the faster the joint projects will launch.
During the meetings held as part of the visit, Azerbaijan offered Iran use of its infrastructure to export oil and gas to world markets.
Following the lifting of sanctions and increased hydrocarbon production, Iran will be able to use the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to export its oil.
In the future, the country can join the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) that has been initiated by Azerbaijan and is meant to transport gas from the Caspian Sea region to Europe in coming years.
Moreover, Azerbaijan has proposed Iran use its gas storage facilities and use the stored gas when their consumption grows.
During the meeting with Azerbaijan's Economy and Industry Minister Shahin Mustafayev, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said that Iran is ready to carry out swap deliveries of Azerbaijan's oil to the Persian Gulf region.
Zanganeh said oil could be transported from Iran's Neka port on the Caspian Sea via pipeline (with a pumping capacity of 500,000 barrels per day) to the Tehran Oil Refinery. In exchange for this, Azerbaijan will get oil on the southern borders of Iran, Zanganeh added.
Nevertheless, all the legal formalities will be complied with in advance in order to start the project's implementation immediately once the sanctions imposed on Iran are lifted.
Iran could also cooperate with Azerbaijan in the oil and gas sector in the Caspian Sea, according to Zanganeh.
The Iranian minister's proposal about the joint production of oil equipment, as well as at the enterprises, opened on the territory of Azerbaijan, is interesting. This will allow opening over 100 jobs in our country.
Minister Mustafayev said that Azerbaijan and Iran are ready for joint investments in the production of petroleum equipment.
Moreover, Azerbaijan and Iran discussed the possibility of joint investing in other countries' gas sectors. Of course, this can also become one of the more profitable areas of cooperation.
The synchronization of electric power systems of Iran and Azerbaijan, the construction of a hydroelectric power station on the border or within the country is an interesting item on the agenda of the visit of the Azerbaijani delegation.
The electricity generated by new power plants will be used in Azerbaijan and Iran and sold to other countries.
During the Azerbaijani delegation's visit to Iran, the sides reached an agreement on the establishment of a working group to analyze the current situation and the coordination of positions on the North-South railway project.
The "North-South" railway will connect Northern Europe with South East Asia and will serve as a bridge to connect the railways of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.
This railway project is going to be very beneficial for all sides. The capacity of the railway will be 1.4 million passengers and 5 million to 7 million metric tons of cargo a year, making the project one of the most important in the region, according to preliminary estimates.
Today, Azerbaijan, which didn't impose sanctions against Iran and always maintained good relations with it, turned out to be in a more advantageous position than the West, as the country will not need confidence-building measures and won't have to start cooperation from scratch.
Baku will try to use this chance 100 percent as Iran, which has now become the most interesting field for investment, because of the circumstances, was the only country in the region except Armenia, where Azerbaijan didn't invest. Now, together with major investments in Turkey, Georgia and other countries, Baku can implement large investment projects in Iran, which will bring considerable profits to the Azerbaijani treasury in the future.
Edited by CN
Elmira Tariverdiyeva is Trend Agency's staff writer