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2011/04/21 Romanian president arrives in Azerbaijan

Romanian President Traian Basescu has begun a two-day official visit to Azerbaijan.

He was met by a guard of honour at Heydar Aliyev International Airport, state-run news agency AzerTAj reported.

First Deputy Prime Minister Yagub Eyyubov welcomed Traian Basescu to Azerbaijan and held a brief meeting with him at the airport.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev later welcomed his Romanian counterpart at an official welcome ceremony, accompanied by another guard of honour.

The presidents are to hold talks and sign official documents during the visit.

President Basescu will be awarded the Azerbaijani Heydar Aliyev Order, while President Aliyev will be awarded Romania’s Faithful Service order, Grand Cross rank, a special order awarded to heads of state, who have previously been decorated with the Star National Order, Collar rank.

On Tuesday, Traian Basescu is to hold talks with the chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament, Ogtay Asadov.

The Romanian delegation accompanying Basescu to Azerbaijan includes a state secretary with the Romanian Foreign Ministry, Doru Costea, and Economy Minister Ion Ariton.

Oil and gas exports are likely to be a major topic of discussion.

Romania’s gas distribution company Transgaz is one of the shareholders in the Nabucco pipeline consortium, seeking to build a pipeline to pump gas from the Caspian region and Middle East to Europe. The consortium wanted concrete commitments from suppliers by the end of March.

Romanian company Romgaz is a partner in AGRI project to supply liquefied natural gas from Azerbaijan to Romania, via Georgia. Romanian, Azerbaijani leaders talk up relations

Ilham Aliyev and Traian Basescu have praised political and economic relations between their countries, highlighting energy projects.

They made the remarks in statements for the press in Baku on Monday, after the signing of an action plan on the implementation of a strategic partnership agreement between the two countries, agreed in September 2009.

“We are partners in the political sphere and the document that we have signed today confirms once again that true relations of strategic partnership have been established between us. I am confident that these relations will give a strong impetus to development in all fields and areas. In other words, political dialogue between us is very strong which allows us to make a positive impact on all other areas of political relations,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said.

Romanian President Traian Basescu was equally positive and also noted the importance of cooperation agreements signed on agriculture, health and foreign affairs.

“Just as every time we meet, we manage to move forward. This time too, the agreements signed by the two governments, as well as the road map for strategic partnership mark big steps forward in Romanian-Azeri bilateral cooperation,” Basescu said.


Energy exports from Azerbaijan were a major topic of discussion.

“Good economic prospects have opened up before us today. I am sure that the strong political relations and investment, and the effective work of various companies play and will play a positive role. Cooperation on energy is developing, Azerbaijan exports crude oil to Romania, while SOCAR [State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic] is expanding its work in Romania,” Ilham Aliyev said.

“There are excellent conditions for successful cooperation on gas. As you know, early this year, a declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor was signed between Azerbaijan and the European Union. Europe’s energy security will be ensured on the basis of this declaration and through Azerbaijan’s resources. Azerbaijan possesses rich gas reserves and these resources are exported to world markets via different routes,” he continued.

Romania is interested in the Nabucco project to build a gas pipeline from the Caspian region and Middle East to Europe, as Romanian gas distribution company Transgaz is one of the project shareholders. The Nabucco project is a major component of the Southern Gas Corridor.

Meanwhile, Romanian company Romgaz is a partner in the AGRI project to supply liquefied natural gas from Azerbaijan to Romania, via Georgia.

“Romanian-Azerbaijani relations have an exceptional character, because Romania is an active member of the Nabucco project, and at the same time an initiator of the AGRI project. The AGRI summit, held in Baku in September last year, was productive. At present, work to draft the technical and economic feasibility study is under way,” Aliyev said.

Traian Basescu said that the “excellent” political relations between the two countries weare increasingly translating to the economic area too.

“The fast progress we made with the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI) project, so that today we already have a company established to operate the project and are able to kick off the project’s feasibility study, shows that the partners have not lost any time since last September. I want to thank you for the support you give to AGRI, alongside the Nabucco project, which enjoys Romania’s full-force backing, as a major European project,” Basescu said.

He welcomed the role of SOCAR in Romania.

“The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic [SOCAR] is taking an active part in the development of Romania’s economy. It would be desirable for us if SOCAR were closely involved in the privatization process in Romania”, the president said.

He said that information technology, a sector in which Romania was strong, could be another area for cooperation with Azerbaijan.

Basescu also supported increasing cooperation between the two countries’ defence industries.


Ilham Aliyev also expressed the hope that relations between Azerbaijan and Romania would strongly influence Azerbaijani-European relations. Azerbaijan is cooperating with the European Union as part of the Eastern Partnership programme, while energy cooperation has good prospects too, the president said.

“There are excellent conditions for the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the EU in all other areas. This relationship is between equals and must be built on the principles of friendship and partnership,” he continued.

“Our relations are multilateral, and are not limited to any area. The political will to develop these relations is strong on both sides. I am sure that the development of relations will have a simultaneous, positive impact on cooperation in the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea regions. There is a great need for it as well. The transport, energy and economic projects, connecting the Caspian Sea and Black Sea regions, should be supported. In this regard, Romanian-Azerbaijani relations are of special importance,” the Azerbaijani leader stated.


On the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Traian Basescu welcomed Azerbaijan’s patience in the negotiations.

“Romania is very concerned at the protraction of a solution to this frozen conflict. The conflict is in a region close to the Black Sea basin. In my opinion, this region is very important for NATO, the EU and Romania as well. I am sure that the conflict must be resolved within international law. Respect for countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity should be the main principles. I hope the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be solved on the basis of these principles: the inviolability of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and respect for international law,” Basescu said. Azerbaijani gas supplies to Europe not limited to Shah Deniz

Azerbaijan will be able to supply enough gas to fill the planned Nabucco pipeline to Europe, a senior official in state oil company SOCAR has said.

SOCAR is planning to increase gas production from the Shah Deniz gas condensate field alone to up to 25bn cubic metres by 2017, according to the company’s first vice-president, Khoshbakht Yusifzade .

Nabucco’s planned capacity for 2017 is 26-32bn cu.m.

Azerbaijan has so far guaranteed to supply 10bn cu.m of gas to Nabucco, which will be sufficient for the first stage of the pipeline’s operation.

Nabucco’s head of communications, Christian Dolezal, agrees that the company sees Azerbaijan as the main supplier for the pipeline.

He told the fifth Caspian Oil and Gas Energy and Transportation conference in Baku on Tuesday that talks were also under way on supplies from Iraq.

Dolezal commented on financing, a second challenge facing the pipeline alongside gas supply.

“The agreements on a Southern Energy Corridor signed between Azerbaijan and the European Commission can be seen as one of the first legislative foundations for Nabucco. The Nabucco shareholders are continuing talks with Azerbaijan and, depending on the outcome of the negotiations, a decision will be taken on project financing. We expect the decision to be taken by the end of the year,” Dolezal said.

He said that Nabucco was holding talks with the International Finance Corporation and the European Investment Bank.

On construction, Dolezal said:

“We have completed detailed front-end engineering in Turkey and began front-end engineering work to the Georgian border this year. The consortium has held 150 public hearings on the project. We have to reach agreement with 300,000 land owners on laying the pipeline. We expect to have tackled all these issues by the end of the year.”

Roland Kobia, the European Union’s representative in Baku, told the conference that the EU saw Azerbaijan as a link in the Southern Corridor project.

“Europe’s demand for gas is growing and we are, therefore, interested in new suppliers and Azerbaijan is one of these important suppliers.”

Commenting on Russia’s stance on the Nabucco project, Kobia said Moscow should give up Cold War sterotypes.

“We live in a globalized world and the EU and sovereign countries decide on their relations themselves. We respect the sovereign right of Azerbaijan and other countries.”

Kobia said, however, that Russia remained a main EU partner on energy.

“We are against monopolies in the markets and will, therefore, support all alternative projects.” Trans Adriatic Pipeline pushes bid for Azerbaijani gas

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline will help to consolidate Azerbaijan’s position in the Southern European and Balkans gas market, a TAP executive has said.

Albert Haak, gas storage manager for TAP, made the remarks in a paper on the “Trans Adriatic Pipeline as the cornerstone of the Southern Gas Corridor”, delivered to the fifth Caspian Oil and Gas Energy and Transportation conferencein Baku on Tuesday.

“Countries, such as Italy and Greece are potential consumers of Azerbaijani gas. TAP can export 10 to 20bn cubic metres of gas,” Haak told the conference.

He said that the Shah Deniz gas condensate project would best suit TAP, while natural gas from other Caspian states can also be exported by the pipeline in the future.

Haak lamented the lack of EU backing for TAP. “We would like to have equal opportunities in all projects in Europe, though the EU does not support us,” he said.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline is competing with the Nabucco and ITGI (Interconnector-Turkey-Greece-Italy) pipeline projects to pump Caspian gas to Europe via what is dubbed the Southern Corridor.

In 2008, Norway’s Statoil Hydro and Swiss EGL signed an agreement to set up a joint venture on the construction and operation of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, designed to export Caspian gas to Europe.

The 520-km gas pipeline will supply gas to southeast Italy via Greece and Albania. The gas pipeline includes a 115-km underwater section from Albania to Italy.

EGL estimate the project cost at $2.2bn. Its initial capacity will be 10bn cu.m of gas a year with the possibility of raising it to 20bn cu.m. Statoil Hydro is one of the shareholders in the consortium developing Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas condensate field. It is also a commercial operator of the project, responsible for gas sales from Stage 1 of Shah Deniz development.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline is competing with the Nabucco and ITGI (Interconnector-Turkey-Greece-Italy) pipeline projects to pump Caspian gas to Europe via what is dubbed the Southern Corridor. Azerbaijani gas supplies to Europe not limited to Shah Deniz

Azerbaijan is a leading partner in the South Gas Corridor, Roland Kobia, the head of the EU representative office in Azerbaijan, said at the Fifth Caspian Oil and Gas Trading and Transportation Conference in Baku.

He added that Azerbaijani gas is not limited by the volumes produced within the second phase of the Shah Deniz Field. Other fields have a considerable amount of gas, he said.

“We expect large volumes of gas from Azerbaijan,” he said.

Kobia said there is significant potential for gas production growth in the Caspian region.

The EU’s gas needs are growing every year.

Europe has long passed its peak oil and gas production, he said.

“Over time, Europe’s dependence on imports will increase significantly,” he said.

Today, the EU’s main gas suppliers are Russia, Norway and North Africa.

He said Russia also remains a strategic EU partner in energy supplies.

“Russia is the most important supplier for Europe,” he said. “We hope it will remain so in the future.”

He said Europe greatly needs gas.

“Ultimately, We think all gas route options will be needed,” Kobia said.

He stressed that fuel may also be shipped to Europe. However, transporting gas through Turkey is the strategic option for the EU.

He called the signing of a transit agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey important.

Kobia urged the parties involved not to allow the negotiations to lose their pace.

The South Corridor is a priority EU energy project diversifying energy supply routes and sources and increasing EU energy security. The Southern Corridor includes the Nabucco gas pipeline, Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), White Stream, and ITGI (Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline).

The conference is organized by Confidence Energy and the State Oil Academy. Ukraine offers Azerbaijan to participate in LNG-terminal construction

Ukraine invited Azerbaijan to participate in the LNG-terminal construction, which is scheduled to be completed by 2015, said the Head of the Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Ministry’s Department for oil, gas, peat, petroleum industry and alternative fuels, Igor Kiryushin, on Tuesday in Baku.

Kiryushin said Ukraine seeks to receive 5 billion cubic meters of liquefied gas by 2015. Moreover, the Ukrainian side is ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan in the framework of the LNG-terminal construction on the Georgian port of Kulevi, which, in turn, will be constructed under the AGRI project. Azerbaijani gas is stipulated to supply Romania.

Azerbaijani Industry and Energy Deputy Minister Natig Abbasov said the Ukrainian side expects to receive minimum 2 billion cubic meters of liquefied gas from Azerbaijan by 2015.
A joint meeting of the Azerbaijani-Ukrainian working group on cooperation in the energy sector opens in Baku today. Nabucco partner responds to BP doubts over proposed pipeline

The Nabucco pipeline consortium is not facing a shortage of natural gas supplies and does not intend to downsize, a partner said Tuesday in response to doubts of the project’s viability expressed by BP analysts.

An executive of German natural gas and power distributor RWE said Nabucco, which is projected to go onstream in 2017 has more potential gas supplies than it can handle.

“We’re talking about an excess of 80 billion cubic meters per year from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iraq,” the likely initial suppliers of the pipeline, RWE’s business development chief Jeremy Ellis told the Dow Jones news agency.

The pipeline is being designed to pump up to 31 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually from the Caspian region and Middle East across Turkey and into Europe.

“Egypt has also recently expressed publicly an interest to participate,” he added.

Last month, BP official Iain Conn said that British oil companies prefer smaller capacity pipelines than Nabucco because the Caspian region does not have enough natural gas to provide Europe’s needs.

“The question raised by BP that there isn’t enough gas to fill a pipeline the size of Nabucco is fundamentally wrong,” Ellis said

He noted that the consortium is negotiating with potential suppliers Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iraq.

Securing gas is not the challenge so much as coordinating the timing of gas supply from producer countries, Ellis said.

The RWE executive said Nabucco’s first gas will be supplied in 2017 from the offshore Azeri gas field Shah Deniz II, led by BP and Statoil.

Shah Deniz II is only expected to produce 10 bcm of gas per year and that two other pipelines are competing for its output, the news agency noted.

Ellis told the news agency that Turkmenistan and Iraq are “working hard toward a timetable to supply gas between 2017 and 2020.”

But industry expert Jennifer Coolidge has noted that Turkmenistan and Iraq are unlikely to provide large-scale supplies in the near future.

Turkmenistan, which has the world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas, currently lacks the export infrastructure and “the ability to produce the incremental gas needed to supply Europe,” the news agency reported Coolidge, executive director CMX Caspian and Gulf Consultants, as saying.

Iraq’s gas production is taking second place to its focus on re-electrifying the country, she added.

Ellis said that the consortium has offered to stretch the Nabucco pipeline to Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.

This would give Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan the added bonus of developing their upstream gas industries and provide the two with more choices in consumers for Caspian gas, the RWE executive said. Uzbekneftegaz, Chinese conglomerate sign gas delivery deal

Uzbek state-owned oil and gas company Uzbekneftegaz has signed a deal with Chinese real estate and gas conglomerate Xinjiang Guanghi Industry Investment Group to transport liquefied national gas (LNG) to China and Kazakhstan, the Chinese firm announced on Tuesday.

The deal signed on Saturday stipulates that the two firms will jointly transport 600 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas from Uzbekistan. Gas fields in the Ferghana Valley in northern Uzbekistan will provide 100 mcm of gas, while deposits in central Uzbekistan will provide the remaining 500 mcm.

No further details on the agreement were released by Xinjiang Guanghi.

Top-level Uzbek representatives, including Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Uzbek First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, are visiting the Chinese capital Beijing this week to secure trade deals and expand bilateral cooperation.

A $106 million currency swap agreement has already been reached to facilitate trade.

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