Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the Shah Deniz 2 platform jacket sail away event

01 september 2016, 10:30

Dear friends, it is a very significant day in the life of our country today, as the Shah Deniz-2 platform jacket sails away. I congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this momentous occasion. This is a historic event. The agreement on the Shah Deniz project was signed 20 years ago, and it has been successfully implemented over the years. All the objectives have been met. The Shah Deniz-2 project is of tremendous importance for our country.

The jacket being sailed away today is evidence of the fact that Azerbaijan is a country capable of great things. It is gratifying that the jacket and topsides of the platform are fully built in Azerbaijan. The vast majority of people working on the construction of these giant installations are citizens of Azerbaijan. This is the result of the Contract of the Century. One of the conditions stipulated under the Contract of the Century signed in 1994 was the fact that local specialists and workers should gradually make up the majority, and more than 80 per cent of workers are citizens of Azerbaijan. This means the creation of new jobs. The Shah Deniz project brings together more than 20,000 citizens of Azerbaijan, who receive a good salary and gain experience. These people will work on other projects in the future. Shah Deniz-2 is a project of great importance not only for Azerbaijan but also for the whole region, for all of Europe. The agreement was signed 20 years ago, and today we see its excellent results. For several years now, Azerbaijani gas has been exported to regional countries. Azerbaijan has fully ensured its own energy security and plays a role in ensuring the energy security of other countries. This role will gradually increase.

The Shah Deniz and Southern Gas Corridor projects are among the biggest energy projects in the world. The construction of the Southern Gas Corridor successfully continues. All this work is carried out in a well-concerted manner. I am sure that the work carried out on schedule will be completed in 2018-2020, and Azerbaijani gas will thus be transported to neighboring and European countries in even larger volumes.

The Southern Gas Corridor unites seven countries. Azerbaijan continues its leadership in this direction. Baku has twice hosted meetings of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor. We have created a new format of international cooperation. Participants in this project are Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Italy. At the same time, three Balkan countries Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia will join this project at the next stage. Thus, there will be new opportunities for the export of Azerbaijani gas to different countries in the future. We and all the people of Azerbaijan are creating this together with our partners.

I would like to highlight the role of SOCAR and BP in the implementation of these projects. The SOCAR-BP cooperation already has a long history. This cooperation has continued for more than 20 years, and it has been successful. The past and future work will provide for the operation of SOCAR and BP as close partners at least for another 20 years. The work to be done in Azerbaijan will bring even greater profits both to foreign partners and foreign companies, and to SOCAR and the Azerbaijani people.

If the Contract of the Century had not been signed on the initiative of Heydar Aliyev in 1994, it would be impossible to imagine where Azerbaijan would be today. The main source of the creative and improvement work carried out in our country, the sustainable economy and the major foreign exchange reserves is the Contract of the Century. You are well aware that in that difficult and challenging period, Azerbaijan was also faced with certain pressure. The determination, courage and foresight of Heydar Aliyev and his affection for the people led to the signing of the Contract of the Century. I am also proud of the fact that at that time, in 1994, I also participated in the negotiations prior to the signing of the contract. After that, working in the State Oil Company, I was directly involved with these issues. And as President today, I keep all this work under control and take the necessary steps to further develop Azerbaijan's energy policy.

Today, Azerbaijan is recognized on the world map as a reliable partner and a country worthy of respect. We honor all our commitments and have created good conditions for foreign investors. Their investments are protected by law. If this was not the case, no-one would have invested billions, tens of billions of dollars in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a very attractive country for investment. I am glad that local and foreign investment is made not only in the oil and gas, but also in other sectors. The basis of all this work was laid on 20 September 1994. The signing of the agreement on the Shah Deniz project in 1996 was yet another successful step. However, no-one in the world, particularly in Europe, talked about energy security at the time. Gas projects were not very important. It was believed that gas projects do not bring major revenues, and there were certain doubts. But we were sure that Azerbaijan would have its say in the gas sector too.

Today Azerbaijan is among major gas states. Production and transportation will increase, and Azerbaijan will also play a transit function in the future. Just as we are playing this role for the transportation of oil and petroleum products now. Thus, the power and value of our country will increase and Azerbaijani people will live even better. The goal of all this work is to make the life of Azerbaijani citizens even better, further strengthen the economic independence of our country and enhance our role and importance in the world. We are seeing all that. Therefore, today's ceremony is very symbolic. This is a vivid example of the work done. Azerbaijani citizens do this great work together with foreign partners and foreign investors. Every patriotic citizen of Azerbaijan is proud of this. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in this work - Azerbaijani workers, specialists, foreign partners, BP and other partners. This is our common cause, and each party, foreign companies, the state of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani companies and citizens of Azerbaijan, derive their profit.

I congratulate you on this momentous occasion. Platform topsides will be put into operation next year. God willing, we will meet again for that ceremony next year. Congratulations again!