By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan and the UK have decided to expand interaction with investments based on their long and fruitful economic cooperation.
British Petroleum company was one of the main partners of the hydrocarbon rich country for over 20 years and this cooperation played a major part in the economic formation of young Azerbaijan.
To deepen this cooperation, the UK – Azerbaijan Oil and Gas Partnership Facilitation Programme was launched in Baku on October 29.
The programme will assist UK and Azerbaijan oil and gas supply and manufacturing companies to form mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships.
The signing of the Contract of the Century in 1994 and formation of the modern oil and gas industry identified the development path of Azerbaijan. The large influx of investment in oil and gas projects has created favorable conditions for the development of all sectors of the country’s economy.
All this time BP presented in Azerbaijan being a reliable partner of the country in the energy sector.
Now the volume of investments of the UK in Azerbaijan’s economy exceeds $21 billion, making the country first among foreign investors of Azerbaijan's economy.
Along with this, the UK is the second largest investor in terms of investment in non-oil sector of Azerbaijan. This volume exceeded $1.3 billion
The newly sanctioned programme will initially focus on increasing local manufacturing capacity of components, spares, the assembly of equipment packages and training of local personnel plus specialist services with the aim of improving efficiency and reducing the costs of delivering Azerbaijan’s oil and gas production.
With this program, the cooperation was confirmed between UK Trade and Investment, the Azerbaijan Economy and Industry Ministry, the Azerbaijan State Oil Company and BP, with an active support of British and Azerbaijani Embassies.
Addressing the event Rovnag Abdullayev, the President of SOCAR, said that SOCAR has been paying great attention on the local content development in oil and gas sector of Azerbaijan and in cooperation with BP, several successful results have been achieved during the last years.
"We can provide that most of fabrication and construction works in SD2 projects were awarded to JVs consisting of local and international companies. Therefore, there is huge potential for local and international companies and we believe that this cooperation will bring a lot of success in nearest future,” he noted.
A delegation of 26 UK companies was introduced to over 30 companies from Azerbaijan, as a first phase of a programme that will continue over the next three years.
The cooperation between UK and Azerbaijani companies will create the opportunity for British/Azerbaijani companies to have a strong regional presence and to be competitive in future oil and gas projects.
For his part, BP’s Regional President for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey Gordon Birrell said that BP is pleased to be part of this event and the entire initiative.
"We believe it creates a good opportunity to join all efforts directed to bringing UK and Azerbaijani companies together,” he emphasized.
The programme will be supported by a high level government to government dialogue and include a comprehensive range of ongoing activities. Details to be announced in due course.
Irfan Siddiq, British Ambassador to Baku, stressed his country was determined to make this partnership programme an integral part of our overall commercial activities in Azerbaijan. "We see Azerbaijan as a key hub for the wider Caspian region,” he added.
At present, the two countries have a group of inter-parliamentary cooperation, and an intergovernmental commission. The number of business meetings between the two countries also increased in recent years, which resulted in the possibility of closer cooperation between the business circles of the countries.
The UK and Azerbaijan are cooperating in education, trade, tourism, ICT, as well as other infrastructure and transit projects. Azerbaijan is taking interest in developing cooperation with the UK in the field of petroleum engineering.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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