The Azerbaijan State News Agency


President Ilham Aliyev attended the 21st International Exhibition “Caspian Oil and Gas” in Baku VIDEO

Baku, June 3 (AZERTAC). The 21st International Exhibition and Conference “Caspian Oil and Gas: Refining and Petrochemicals” has started at the Baku Expo Center.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the opening ceremony.

The oil and gas exhibition and conference traditionally held in the capital of our republic is the largest event of this nature in the Caspian region. It showcases cutting-edge technology in the fields of oil and gas production and refining, as well as transportation, logistics and services. The exhibition’s move to the Baku Expo Center, a facility meeting international standards, signaled the start of a new stage in its development. The 21st International Exhibition "Caspian Oil and Gas: Refining and Petrochemicals" brings together more than 400 companies from 29 countries around the world. Most of them are the most influential global companies, including participants in the "Contract of the Century".

The current exhibition features eight national teams, including those from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, China and Russia. Every year a growing number of Azerbaijani companies join the exhibition. In this year’s exhibition, local companies account for more than 30 per cent of the total number of participants. In comparison with the previous exhibition, the area of this year’s show has been increased by 10 per cent. Several participants have joined the exhibition for the first time. Organizers have done comprehensive work to ensure its extensive coverage at the international level. The program of the exhibition and conference is very broad and opens up extensive opportunities for further cooperation.

The President of Azerbaijan made a speech.


Speech by President Ilham Aliyev:


- Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished guests!

I cordially welcome all of you to Azerbaijan. Today I want to congratulate the people of Azerbaijan on the opening of the "Caspian Oil and Gas" exhibition, as this exhibition plays a very important part in the modern life of our country.

In essence, this exhibition was the first important step that attracted the world's attention to the independent Azerbaijan. The exhibition is being held for the 21st time, but the interest in it shows no sign of abating. In fact, it is only increasing. This year’s exhibition brings together more than 400 companies. Some of them are here for the first time, while others are our traditional partners.

The number of companies involved in the exhibition is growing by the year, and this is great. It is a very important indicator. Azerbaijan’s oil and gas sector expands its capabilities and scope every year. As we meet our goals, new challenges emerge, and we will try to meet all our goals with an equal degree of determination and effectiveness.

One of the contributors to the importance of the exhibition, of course, is the fact that the President of the United States and the British Prime Minister traditionally send their congratulations. This greatly increases the importance of the exhibition, as heads of state and government of the world’s two leading countries pay attention to the show. I believe that our exhibition retains its unique role on a global scale.

I should also note that the achievements of recent years were made together with our partners. In 1994, there wasn’t sufficient information about Azerbaijan in the world. Azerbaijan was a newly-independent state, and the early years of our independence were extremely difficult for our country and people. Civil war, infighting, Armenia’s aggressive policy against Azerbaijan, economic downturn – we remember all that.

1993 will be remembered as a pivotal year in the development of the independent state of Azerbaijan, because it was at that time that Azerbaijan embarked on a path of success. The reforms undertaken by great leader Heydar Aliyev covered all spheres. It was also in those years that Azerbaijan’s oil strategy was determined. It is being successfully implemented to this day.

The first exhibition in 1994, of course, raised the attention of the world’s oil and gas companies in the economy of Azerbaijan.

I am very pleased that this attention continues to this day. Over the last 20 years Azerbaijan, of course, has been in the spotlight due to the development of the oil and gas industry and its contribution to the world’s energy security. In 1994, we held the first exhibition. Several months later the "Contract of the Century" was signed, paving the way for our current successful development. It was a historic event, as it is difficult to imagine today what would have happened if the "Contract of the Century" had not been signed. Azerbaijan had no money, the economy was in ruins, industrial development was out of the question, and our development as an independent state depended only on the attraction of foreign investment. Today I want to express my gratitude to the companies and investors who believed in us at the time, expressed an interest in working with us, believed in a stable and successful future of Azerbaijan, have been next to us all along and provided us with the present-day realities. I want to emphasize the activities of bp. bp is our biggest investor, the biggest partner. This partnership has successfully continued for 20 years, and the joint projects being implemented today suggest that the cooperation and partnership between bp and SOCAR will determine the development of the oil and gas sector in Azerbaijan and the region as a whole for at least another 20 years, perhaps even more.

I am very pleased that we have such a partner as bp. We participate in all projects together, shoulder to shoulder, and assume all the major economic and technical risks.

In 1994, we embarked on a new policy, and from that time to the present day Azerbaijan has made huge strides in the oil and gas sector. I can say that the period from the signing of the contract to the production of first oil was probably the shortest in world history – it took only three years. This is a world record. In 1997, first oil was produced from the "Chirag" platform. I remember that day perfectly well. It was indeed a holiday. Perhaps many did not realize at the time where it would lead us. But today's reality and the current successful development of Azerbaijan began in that year and on that day. Since that time, Azerbaijan has consistently demonstrated its oil and then gas potential to the international market. The Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline was refurbished and the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline was built, linking the Caspian Sea with the Black Sea by a pipeline for the first time. Then the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was built. That too was a historic event, because without this pipeline Azerbaijan would not have been able to deliver its oil and then gas resources to world markets. Thus, a corridor was created. The Caspian Sea-Black Sea-Mediterranean Sea cooperation format emerged. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline linked the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Today it operates successfully and serves other countries as well. After the corridor was in place, Azerbaijan, of course, began to play the transit role. Today we can say that Azerbaijan is taking full advantage of its geographical location and logistical capabilities. Azerbaijan also provides services to the manufacturers based on the east coast of the Caspian Sea. The volume of oil and oil products transported through the territory of Azerbaijan is growing by the year. Azerbaijan is a reliable transit country. I think that one of the biggest successes we have achieved in the oil and gas industry over the last 20 years is the fact that we are a reliable partner, our word is as valuable as our signature, and we have always remained true to our word.

Thus, today's realities have been made ​​thanks to the investment in Azerbaijan’s oil and gas industry, the wonderful investment climate, the protection of foreign investment, the strong political will and the excellent international cooperation. Today, our capabilities play a role not only in matters within the country, but also in the determination of the oil and gas policy in the region and beyond. Azerbaijan, of course, will gradually expand its capabilities.

I think that an important sign of our oil policy is that we always try to link the interests of producers, transit countries and consumers, so that there are no contradictions and that parties can derive maximum benefit. I believe that we have achieved that. Another sign is that we have never used our oil and gas opportunities for any other purposes. We have only deepened this cooperation by supplying our resources to world and regional markets. Today there is a wonderful atmosphere of cooperation, its geography is gradually expanding because in the coming years we will start long-term cooperation with new partners.

Azerbaijan is known in the world as an oil country. As you know, the world’s first oil was produced in Azerbaijan. The first oil from an offshore field was also produced in Azerbaijan, on the Oil Rocks. Today Azerbaijan has regained its glory of an oil country, and this is manifested even more than in previous years.

But today Azerbaijan is more known in the world and Europe as a gas producing country. Currently, natural gas is the key contributor to the energy security of countries. The energy security of a country is directly related to its national security today. These two factors can’t be separated from each other. The contract on the development of the "Shah Deniz" gas field signed in 1996, only two years after the signing of the "Contract of the Century", is, of course, of huge importance today. We knew back then that Azerbaijan has ample reserves of gas, and it is the development of the "Shah Deniz" gas field that has confirmed that.

The "Shah Deniz" gas field is one of the largest in the world. It accounts for at least 50 per cent of our gas potential. That is a major deposit in itself, but we have other major gas fields as well. In recent years, thanks to the successful exploration activities, the gas fields of "Umid" and "Absheron" have been discovered. Gas reserves in "Shah Deniz", "Umid", "Absheron" and other fields constitute at least 2.5 trillion cubic meters. And this will play a role in the long-term energy security of both Azerbaijan and Europe. I am glad that very important steps have already been taken in this direction.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline was commissioned in 2007. Azerbaijan has been delivering its gas to world markets, to put it more precisely, to regional markets for seven years now. The fact that we have multiple oil and gas pipelines fully provides diversification in this area. We have seven oil and gas pipelines transporting our energy resources in all directions. We certainly need to access new markets, because our large gas potential can’t be limited to the regional market. We need bigger markets, and there is a demand for Azerbaijani gas in these markets. In recent years we have worked very hard on these issues. The implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor today largely depends on the development of the "Shah Deniz" field. It is gratifying that all the issues related to the development of the "Shah Deniz" gas field have now been resolved. The "Shah Deniz-2" project has been launched. Prior to that, the TANAP project was signed, so there are no obstructions in our way.

But we remember that there were many years of negotiations. Various conferences and symposia on the transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe were organized. Unfortunately, they did not produce tangible results. Those were simply discussions and statements made day after day, with no specific results. We wanted this project to be implemented because all our projects are carried out in a timely manner, even ahead of schedule. Therefore, we could not afford to let the Southern Gas Corridor project remain only as a great project and idea.

Therefore, at the decisive moments we took full responsibility and made ​​suggestions related to the implementation of the new project. We also gave the name of this project – TANAP, the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline. We made ​​a huge effort to implement this project. As a result, Azerbaijan and Turkey signed a contract in 2012. Today, the TANAP project is already a reality. Specific work has already begun on the implementation of TANAP and the attention to it is increasing.

I am very pleased that our partner bp has also acquired the shares of TANAP. Thus, this major international project will have a decisive impact on the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor. Of course, we could think that we have resolved all the issues associated with TANAP. Oil production is stable. There are broad export opportunities. We have also accessed gas markets. However, we try as much as possible to expand our international cooperation and contribute to the energy security of Europe. To this end, all the issues related to the implementation of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline were resolved last year, so a new major gas pipeline will be built from Baku to Europe, to Italy.

The TAP project will also bring about a new format of cooperation. Here, of course, all countries should do serious coordination work, because so far we implemented all projects mainly among three countries – Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Now our projects are joined by several European countries. The mutual trust, coordination and joint activities among these countries will, of course, lead to a successful implementation of these projects. I am sure that this will be the case because we have a great experience. Several pipelines have already been built, and I do hope that as a result of international cooperation this project will also be implemented in a timely manner, thus providing a new source of gas for Europe.

I should also note that TANAP and TAP projects will provide Europe with gas from a new source. This is not just a new route. It is a new route and a new source, and this is what makes this project special. Of course, the scope of the project is also huge. According to preliminary estimates, funds amounting to $45 billion are envisaged. Azerbaijan also provides financial resources. In any case, a significant portion of investment in the TANAP project belongs to Azerbaijan, i.e. we are the biggest investor. We participate in TAP and “Shah Deniz” projects. So Azerbaijan demonstrates the political will, conducts an elaborate oil strategy and at the same time provides financial resources.

And the source of the funds is the oil industry. As Mr. Wood has said, one of our biggest successes here is that the revenues obtained were channeled into the well-being of our people, the implementation of infrastructure projects and the development of our country.

Our funds are increasing every year. Transparency is our top priority. If transparency had not been provided, we could not have collected so much money. Today, Azerbaijan's participation in projects on extractive industry transparency has allowed us the opportunity to have major financial resources which we are using rationally. We spend our money both on the projects awaiting solution within the country and on improving the well-being of our people, on global projects such as "Shah Deniz-2", TANAP and TAP.

These projects will multiply the power of Azerbaijan. Today, Azerbaijan, of course, is a rapidly developing country. But the "Shah Deniz-2" project will provide our long-term sustainable development. Billions of dollars will be invested. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of new Azerbaijani companies will work as contractors. This, in turn, will lead to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs, develop the non-oil sector of our economy, because non-oil sector development will be achieved through participation in construction and infrastructure projects. Our main goal is to develop the non-oil sector. This is evidenced by the results of recent years. Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector is increasing by at least 9-10 per cent annually, thus ensuring the diversification of the economy.

Of course, the foundation of our today's economic situation was laid in 1994. We must not forget that. We should always remember that. All our successes began after the signing of the "Contract of the Century" in 1994 and the organization of this exhibition. We have used this situation very effectively. We have turned the oil capital into human capital. Today, the investment made in Azerbaijan provides for the overall development of our country. The investment made in education, advanced technology, space industry and other areas is leading our country forward.

Our financial situation is very stable. In recent years, Azerbaijan has covered a successful road from the point of view of economic reforms. Our foreign debt accounts for 8 per cent of the gross domestic product. Unemployment is at 5 per cent. Our foreign exchange reserves account for 70 per cent of the gross domestic product.

The competitiveness of our country is increasing. According to the Davos World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan's economy ranks 39th in the world in terms of competitiveness. We were able to achieve this through reforms. But if it hadn’t been for the oil factor, for our rich deposits and resources and if we hadn’t used them rationally, it would have taken us a long time to achieve this.

Therefore, we have great respect for the past. We appreciate the work of our friends and partners – both foreign oil companies and organizers of this exhibition. This has contributed to our overall success, which is why the exhibition brings together over 400 companies.

I am sure that at the next exhibition we will talk about new achievements, because when we met at the show last year, the final investment decision on the "Shah Deniz-2" project had not yet been adopted. It happened in the last 7-8 months. I am convinced that in June of next year we will talk about new successes.

I wish the exhibition a great success. I want to welcome all the guests to Azerbaijan! Thank you.

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