Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the Presidential Ceremony of the 22nd World Petroleum Congress

10 july 2017, 13:01

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

- My dear brother, distinguished President Recep Tayyip Erdogan!

Dear ladies and gentlemen.

I am very glad to be on brotherly Turkish soil again. Taking this opportunity, I wish the brotherly Turkish people peace, prosperity and progress.

I want to thank President Erdogan for inviting me to this congress. I am also grateful for the hospitality extended to me.

Turkey today is a great force on a global scale. Turkey has the key say on many issues on the world agenda. All these successes have been achieved under the leadership of my brother President Erdogan. Turkey today is successfully and rapidly developing. Under the leadership of President Erdogan, Turkey has covered a long and glorious road. This forum is evidence of that. As Turkey grows stronger, we, too, become stronger and rejoice in this. I would like to take this opportunity to convey cordial greetings from all Azerbaijani brothers and sisters to the brotherly Turkish people.

Turkey and Azerbaijan stand by each other in all matters. Our cooperation is multifaceted and covers all issues. The Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation and interaction in the energy sector has made it possible to implement many important strategic projects. Among them, I would like to highlight the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the TANAP project. These projects have redrawn the energy map not only of our region, but also of the whole world.

Azerbaijan is an ancient oil region. In fact, we believe that Azerbaijan is the birthplace of oil because it was in Azerbaijan that oil was industrially extracted for the first time in 1846. A hundred years later, in the middle of the 20th century, oil was first produced offshore also by Azerbaijani oil workers in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. However, Azerbaijan was not an independent republic at that time and we could not fully use our natural resources. Only in the years of independence did the Azerbaijani people become masters of their own destiny and natural resources. In the years of independence, these natural resources began to serve the development of our country, improving the welfare of our people. In the early years of independence, in 1994, Azerbaijan opened its hydrocarbon deposits in the Caspian Sea to foreign investors.

Since 1994, major investments started to be made in Azerbaijan’s oil industry. At the same time, 1994 is a significant year because it was in that year that the Contract of the Century was signed. This contract plays a major role in filling the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline with oil. After that, a rich gas field of Shah Deniz was discovered in Azerbaijan. The volume of gas reserves in this field amounts to 1.2 trillion cubic meters. This is one of the world's largest gas fields. It forms much of the resource base of the Southern Gas Corridor today.

Thus, at the present stage Azerbaijan has become a producer and exporter of oil and gas. To access world markets, it was necessary for our country to build oil and gas pipelines, because we do not have direct access to world markets. With this aim, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was commissioned in 2006 and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline in 2007. A few years earlier, the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline connecting the Caspian Sea with the Black Sea was built as well. Thus, a fairly extensive network was created to deliver Azerbaijan's natural resources to world markets. In 2006, together with my brother President Erdogan, we attended the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and already thought about further plans and exchanged opinions. From that day to the present, all our plans have been successfully implemented. Today we are working on such a megaproject as the Southern Gas Corridor. Its foundation was also laid in Turkey, in this beautiful city of Istanbul. In 2012, my brother President Erdogan and I signed a contract on TANAP project, which forms the basis of the Southern Gas Corridor. It was after this that work began in all other directions. Today the Southern Gas Corridor project is being successfully implemented. It consists of four parts. The first part is the Shah Deniz gas field. The implementation of Shah Deniz-2 project is already 93 per cent through and it will be fully completed in the coming months. The second part is the South Caucasus gas pipeline connecting Azerbaijan with Georgia. There, too, work is 87 per cent through. The third and the key part is the TANAP gas pipeline. The level of completion here is 77 per cent, and we will celebrate the implementation of this project next year. Finally, the fourth part is TAP, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline. Here the implementation is at the level of 44 per cent. All these four important projects form the Southern Gas Corridor. To implement this project, investment amounting to $40 billion is required, a significant part of which has already been made.

Подтвержденные запасы газа в Азербайджане составляют 2,6 триллиона кубометров. В предстоящие десятилетия азербайджанский газ будет обеспечивать потребности стран как региона, так и Европы.

Azerbaijan’s confirmed gas reserves constitute 2.6 trillion cubic meters. In the coming decades, Azerbaijani gas will address the needs of countries both in our region and in Europe.

The implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project involves seven countries: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, and Italy. Three more Balkan countries may join the Southern Gas Corridor later. Relevant work in this direction is also under way. So we are expanding and we can further expand the geography of this project in the future, because this is an initiative that benefits all countries. The implementation of this project indicates that all participating countries and companies are receiving revenues. We have created such a wonderful format of cooperation where producers, i.e. Azerbaijan, transit countries and consumers work on the basis of common interests. It was this balance of interests that has led to the successful implementation of this major project, because there are quite many technical, financial, economic and political issues involved. It is already possible to say that the Southern Gas Corridor project will be successfully implemented and Azerbaijan will provide natural gas to countries both in the region and in Europe for many years.

Today, the gas factor is the key condition of energy security in the world. From this point of view, Azerbaijan contributes to energy security. At the same time, Azerbaijani gas is the only new source of gas that will be transported to Europe, because all other sources are already engaged. A new source has already been identified. These gas resources will be supplied to European markets through a new line. So our advantage lies in the fact that there both factors are present. This is a very serious step in the field of energy diversification.

Azerbaijan is aware of its responsibility. We fully understand that the projects being implemented with partner countries will ensure the energy balance and energy security of many countries, will help them. I do hope that by taking on this responsibility, we will show good results.

The focus of this Congress, of course, is on oil and gas. Concluding my speech, I want to touch upon another issue. Usually, countries not rich in oil think: it would be good if we had oil and used it. I can say that oil can be useful, but it can also create problems and headaches. It depends on how you use it. We in Azerbaijan have tried and, I believe, succeeded in turning "black gold" into human capital. The income we receive income from oil is transparently stored in the first place. The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan is one of the most transparent funds among those existing in the world. It has been awarded a prize from the United Nations. So this is the main condition – full transparency. The public is regularly informed about the savings in our Oil Fund.

The second issue relates to the proper use of oil revenues. We have channeled the revenues from oil primarily in infrastructure projects. Today we export not only oil and gas, but also the energy generated by dozens of power plants we have built in recent years. We have invested heavily in social infrastructure projects – in the construction of schools and hospitals. There is a very serious fight against poverty. In fact, it is impossible to create too many jobs in the oil sector. Despite this, by channeling revenues from oil into other sectors, we managed to reduce the level of poverty and unemployment, which is at about 5-6 per cent now. So the right policies and the right steps can enable you to benefit from oil, but this wealth can also create problems for countries.

I consider the experience of Azerbaijan to be successful. Major foreign investment is also made in our country. We, in turn, also invest in foreign countries. Brotherly Turkey is in the first place. To date, investments worth $10 billion have been made in the energy sector of Turkey. In the coming years, this figure will double.

In other words, dear friends, when we talk about energy security today, of course, it is the realized projects that come to mind. I want to return to the beginning of my speech. Turkish-Azerbaijani unity, friendship and brotherhood determine the interests and the successful future not only of our two countries. They have a huge impact on the region. This brings stability and prosperity to the region, serves to create new jobs, strengthens security and opens the door for broad cooperation.

My dear brother, I want to express my gratitude for the invitation and the hospitality extended to me once again. I wish the Congress success. Thank you!