By Akbar Mammadov
President Ilham Aliyev has said that the Azerbaijani oil fully serves the interests of the Azerbaijani people, saying that the country has benefited largely from is hydrocarbon resources since gaining independence.
President Ilham Aliyev made the remarks following a groundbreaking ceremony of the offshore operations of the Absheron field at the Heydar Aliyev Baku Deep Water Jackets Plant on September 19.
The president said that unlike the mid-19th and 20th centuries, when Azerbaijan did not benefit from its energy resources, today, the government is using the oil and gas revenues to develop the country’s infrastructure.
“Today, we are in leading places globally in terms of infrastructure projects. The Davos Forum ranks Azerbaijan 11th and 12th in terms of air and rail transport. We are ranked 27th in the world for the quality of the road infrastructure. Look at other infrastructure and social infrastructure projects – 3,700 schools have been built and renovated in the years of independence,” the president added.
He underlined that more than 700 hospitals have been built and provided with the latest equipment.
“We have become a spacefaring nation, we are implementing huge oil and gas projects. Not only in the economic and industrial spheres but also in sports – we finished 14th for the number of medals at the Olympic Games. Was this possible to imagine in the Soviet era? If someone had said at the time that one of these was possible, people would probably laugh at them,” Aliyev said.
Aliyev said that during the Soviet Union, Azerbaijani gas was transported to other republics, but there was no gas in some parts of the republic. He noted that now gasification has reached 96 per cent.
“We live in a free and independent country, we have our own destiny. Our natural resources serve the interests of our people. We have invested oil revenues very efficiently. We are protecting them and strengthening our army. Therefore, the advantages of independence are obvious.”
Speaking about the Absheron field that has gas reserves of 350-360 billion cubic meters, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan will continue to be a reliable supplier of gas.
“The gas produced from Absheron at the first stage will be supplied to domestic needs because there is a need for that. The growing population and the growing industry require that. The gas to be extracted at the second stage will be exported to world markets,” the president said.
Gas produced in the second phase of the Absheron field development will also be supplied to Turkey via the TANAP pipeline. It may also be supplied to other markets, he added.
The president noted that the full-field development of this field will be solved in stages.
Furthermore, the president highlighted the energy sector’s role in the country’s economy, saying that the key part of the country's economy is associated with the oil and gas sector, and this will continue to be the case for many years to come.
“I am not saying that other sectors are not developing, but no matter how much they may develop, they will not be able to catch up with oil and gas revenues in the near future.”
The president added that at the same time, the country’s new projects such as Absheron today, “Karabakh” a month ago and the implementation of other projects will further reinforce the important role of the oil and gas factor.
He emphasized that therefore, the successful future of the country will largely depend on the profession of oil workers, on their achievements.
“Today, oil workers are seeing that their work serves the interests of the Azerbaijani people, which is very important for them. They know that both today and in the future, political and economic achievements of our country will continue to be underpinned by the oil and gas factor.”
President Aliyev also spoke about the projects carried out in the country’s oil and gas sector.
“Our main source of income is Azeri, Chirag and Gunashli fields. Work there is going according to plan. A new project, called “Azeri Central East”, is being implemented there now. The cost of this project is about $7 billion. As a result of the implementation of this project, production from new sources will increase, which will compensate for the decline, of course.”
He pointed out that there are currently more than 120 wells operating at the Azeri, Chirag and Gunashli fields.
Aliyev noted that at the same time, work to develop the “Karabakh” oil field is progressing on schedule.
“The jacket we see here now will be sailed away offshore. I hope that first oil will be produced at the “Karabakh” field in a year or two. The peculiarity of this field is that there are more oil reserves there, and this is of great importance for maintaining production at a stable level.”
The president emphasized that another promising project is called “Shallow Water Absheron” for which drilling operations will begin in a few months.
“I do hope that we will discover large oil reserves there as well. Work is going according to plan in the “Umid” and “Babak” projects, in which SOCAR is the sole operator.”
Armenia preparing for large-scale war
The president also touched upon the current state of the negotiations in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that “negotiations are virtually non-existent.”
“I have said that we will not participate in negotiations for the sake of their imitation. This does not mean that we are refusing to negotiate. It means that we do not want to join Armenia's cunning policy. Our participation in imitation of negotiations would correspond to the essence of this imitation.”
Aliyev emphasized that in fact, the Armenian leader has disrupted the process of negotiations.
“Because their nonsensical statements and provocative steps make the talks meaningless,” the president said with reference to recent provocation statements voiced in Yerevan that undermine the peace negotiations.
“They also fail to properly analyze the consequences of their actions. However, there are rationally thinking people and politicians in Armenia, and these politicians are already raising this issue and telling the Armenian public that the incumbent Armenian leadership is leading Armenia into the abyss.”
Touching upon Armenia’s military provocation on the state border in July, Aliyev stressed that Armenia is preparing for another large-scale war.
“We have operational intelligence. We know what is happening around us… Our intelligence bodies work very efficiently,” Aliyev said.
The president stressed that Armenia has sought to involve the Russian-led military block Collective Security Treaty Organization in the war with Azerbaijan.
“Probing is carried out in order to involve the Collective Security Treaty Organization and its allies in this matter. But that didn't work out either. The Collective Security Treaty Organization did not make any statement, only made a comment. Seeing that their attempts had failed, they retreated. Today they are re-inventing the myths that they allegedly won a big victory.”
The president emphasized that this shows again that Armenia is an aggressive state whose policies reflect their hatred for Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis.
The president said that Armenia will face serious consequences if it starts the war.
"They are preparing for a new war. They are concentrating their forces near the line of contact. We see everything and we watch everything. We follow all of their actions. Of course, we will defend ourselves. Just as we defended ourselves in Tovuz, we will defend ourselves in all other directions. The events in Tovuz were yet another lesson for them. If they want to learn a new lesson, we are ready for it.”
Speaking about the supply of weapons from Russia and Serbia to Armenia, the president said that Armenia is a constant source of threat for the country.
The president also reminded Russia’s and Serbia’s recent weapons delivery to Armenia, saying that he learned about this from reliable sources.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is worried about arms delivery to Armenia because this country has unleashed an armed aggression against Azerbaijan.
“Armenia is a country sponsoring terrorism. The intensive nature of the supply of weapons, of course, seriously worries us because they are being used against us. These weapons are used to kill our children and other citizens. Therefore, this issue, like any other, is in the spotlight. We will continue to monitor the situation,” Aliyev stressed.
Furthermore, Aliyev thanked the Georgian government for not allowing the transportation of weapons to Armenia through its territory.
“That is why transport planes deliver weapons to Armenia through the territories of the Caspian countries and by air. Georgia acted like a very reliable partner,” Aliyev said.
“Today, the relations and developing cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan serve the interests of both countries. I want to reiterate that the governments of Georgia and Azerbaijan are in close contact with each other, and this will continue to be the case,” the president said.
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