Speech by Ilham Aliyev at opening of drilling plant named after Heydar Aliyev
18 may 2017, 11:30
It is a significant day in the life of our country today. We are celebrating the commissioning of a new semi-submersible drilling rig. I heartily congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion. This is a historic event for the oil industry of Azerbaijan because such a large drilling rig has not been built in Azerbaijan before. I congratulate all the people who took part in the construction of this drilling rig and express my gratitude to them. I am glad that such a huge facility has been built in Azerbaijan. The vast majority of people involved in the construction of this facility are Azerbaijani citizens. We are witnessing the successful implementation of yet another cooperation project with foreign partners. Of course, this is a reality because Azerbaijan has been successfully cooperating with foreign partners for many years. Foreign companies invest in Azerbaijan. And investment in this facility has been made by the state of Azerbaijan.
We channel our oil revenues also into such gigantic projects. The funds invested both by the State Oil Fund and the State Oil Company in this project amount to approximately $1 billion. In other words, it shows our strength and capabilities. It also demonstrates that the oil industry in Azerbaijan develops successfully. When foreign companies started to invest in Azerbaijan, one of our main conditions was that this investment should also serve the development of the oil industry, creation of jobs in Azerbaijan, high salaries for our employees, enhanced professionalism and training courses for them. We are seeing all this today. Azerbaijani citizens successfully participate in all major oil projects and bring huge benefit to themselves and the country.
The creation of this rig is a historic event. It is no coincidence that the drilling rig has been given the name of great leader Heydar Aliyev. Heydar Aliyev is the founder of Azerbaijan’s modern oil industry. Today, the oil strategy of Heydar Aliyev is being successfully implemented. In 1994, the signing of the Contract of the Century marked the start of a new era in the oil industry of Azerbaijan. Along with this, important steps were taken to develop Azerbaijan’s oil industry under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev in the 1970s. Among them, the construction of the deep-water jackets factory began at the initiative of the great leader in the 1970s. If that plant had not been built in Azerbaijan at that time – you must have heard that there were other options as well – then such a factory would have been built elsewhere on the shores of the Caspian Sea. It was thanks to the intervention and efforts of Heydar Aliyev that Baku was chosen for the construction of the deep-water jackets factory. Today, this plant plays an indispensable role in the development of our oil industry and the country as a whole. In other words, the modernization of oil refineries and the implementation of other projects in the 1970s served the development of the oil industry in Azerbaijan. As for the period of independence, if we had not attracted foreign partners to investing in Azerbaijan in 1994, the overall economic situation in Azerbaijan could be quite different today. The signing of the Contract of the Century in 1994 was a historic event. I remember those days quite well. We participated in negotiations together with esteemed Khoshbakht Yusifzade who is also present at this ceremony. We held talks in Istanbul in May and in the American city of Houston in July-August 1994 in order to secure the most acceptable conditions for Azerbaijan. At the same time, we wanted to make sure that foreign investors do not run away and also have good conditions. I think that we achieved acceptable conditions for both sides. As a result of tense negotiations, the Contract of the Century was signed in September 1994 and is being successfully implemented today. If the Contract of the Century had not been signed, Azerbaijan could not have achieved such level of development. Everyone should know this.
The main source of our successful development is the Contract of the Century and the revenues received from this project. We successfully channeled these revenues into other areas. Of course, oil and gas operations have continued. Since 1996 the Shah Deniz project has been successfully implemented. Currently we are working on other projects. The semi-submersible drilling rig named after Heydar Aliyev will function on the very promising gas condensate field of Absheron. I am confident that we will see good results in the Absheron field in the near future, within a few years.
There are other promising projects on our agenda. There is Umid where work is already going on. Foreign companies are showing interest in Babek and Garabagh projects again. A contract was once signed but was later terminated. But we know today – and foreign partners also see it – that there are also big reserves in the Garabakh field. So we are consistently implementing all this work in order to make our country even stronger and receive even more revenues. As for the implemented oil projects, they operate successfully. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline has been in operation for 11 years. The Southern Gas Corridor is being successfully implemented. I am sure that we will succeed in implementing this project in a timely manner. We should celebrate the commissioning of TANAP, the main part of this project, next year. I am sure we will achieve that.
I also want to point to our cooperation with foreign partners today. This cooperation is built on a sound basis. Both investor and contractor companies work successfully in Azerbaijan. Of course, they have their own corporate interests. We have or own state interests, and these interests coincide. I think that Azerbaijan has created excellent conditions for foreign investors. All contracts are signed into law, which inspires confidence in investors.
So we are celebrating a new remarkable event in the history of our country today. This giant facility can carry out drilling operations anywhere. Oil industry specialists will probably know that it was impossible in Soviet time to come to a place where water depths exceeded 200 meters. Perhaps this is why we have managed to preserve the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli and Shah Deniz fields for the independent Azerbaijan today. If there had been such opportunities at that time, we would have lost these deposits. Equally, the oil reserves of the overwhelming majority of our main onshore deposits were depleted during the times of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet period. But with the help of this facility we can now conduct drilling operations anywhere. This installation can operate at sea depths up to thousands of meters. I am told that the drilling depth of this facility is 12,000 meters. It weighs 26,000 tons. These figures alone testify to the fact that we have embarked on the implementation of a major project. At the same time, they show what a great job our employees, engineers and workers have done. I congratulate you on this occasion again and wish you continued success.