Books on Azerbaijan
Update No: 285- (01/10/04)
The decidedly florid oratory of the president of Azerbaijan,
Ilham Aliyev, can be gauged in the following peroration, in which he was naming
a school after his mother, all part and parcel of cult of his own family.
Nepotism is the order of the day in the republic; so is rampant corruption.
"Dear Barda people!
Dear sisters and brothers!
I sincerely greet you all and congratulate on opening of this wonderful school.
This school carries the name of the famous scientist, nice doctor Zarifa Aliyeva.
I am doubly glad that there is a school in ancient Garabag land named after
Zarifa Aliyeva and her monument is set. Zarifa Aliyeva was a great scientist and
very professional doctor. At the same time, she was the spouse and friend of
nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev and my mother. I express you my deep gratitude.
This school was built to the highest level and meets all modern standards. I am
sure that children will get high-level education here. Actually, everything in
Azerbaijan must be to a high-level. Specially, new school and hospital buildings
have to be built to a high level. I am sure that the children and teachers of
this school will care about this school. The best circumstances are provided
here, the school has been given modern and beautiful appliances." Etcetera,
10th anniversary of "the contract of the century"
To show that hyperbole is forever his style, Ilham gave another speech in
mid-September on the 10th anniversary of the signing of a vital energy contract
with the foreign consortium, AOIC, led by BP and Amoco. He called it
"contract of the century."
This is now at work exporting Caspian Sea oil to the West via Georgia.
It has been the foundation of the booming economy that underpins the regime. FDI
in total has come to nearly $10bn, the highest in the region. The general
population has not benefited, the funds accruing flowing not down, but out. GDP
per capita of $3,491in 2003 is higher than in neighbouring Armenia and Georgia,
but is still low by any standards.
GDP bounds up by around ten per cent a year, actually 11.2% in 2003 and 8.5% in
2004. Only Kazakhstan among the other FSU states can sustain this sort of growth
over the long term.
Things will doubtless improve for the people eventually. But they are in for a
long haul before they do.
Cancellation of NATO exercises
The protests that led to the cancellation of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization's exercises in Azerbaijan in September are being interpreted in
Baku as the first public expression of popular will since Ilham Aliyev's
accession to power in 2003. Yet while some believe this show of force indicates
that Azerbaijan still possesses a robust opposition, others are more worried
about what NATO's decision will mean in the long term for the country.
Protests at Armenia's participation in the "Cooperative Best
Effort-2004" exercises, an annual training session for Partnership for
Peace participants, gained steam in late August, when members of the Karabakh
Liberation Organization were sentenced to prison for forcing their way into a
NATO planning conference in Baku that included Armenian military officers. Anger
at the arrests quickly took on momentum, with pickets held outside the British,
German and French embassies and both pro-government MPs and the opposition media
calling on the Aliyev government to deny Armenia entry into Azerbaijan for the
September 14-26 games.
Though Baku's support for Armenia's participation in the games began to cool
even before the protests, the resulting political tension appears to have forced
Aliyev to clearly re-define the government's position and abandon earlier
assurances this April that Armenian representatives would be allowed into
Azerbaijan for the exercises. On September 10, the Foreign Ministry refused to
issue visas to all Armenian military officers. The same day, parliament pushed
for NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to rescind the invitation to
Armenia to take part in the exercises, saying that the officers' presence does
not "correspond with the interests of the nation."
One day later, Aliyev's position was made clear: "Everybody was invited by
NATO. But if you ask the Azerbaijani people, do they want the Armenian military
to come to Baku, they would say no," Aliyev said during a visit to the
Barda region. "I do not want their visit as well."
A tersely worded statement in response from NATO's Supreme Command said that the
decision to cancel the games took place after the alliance's "principle of
inclusiveness was violated."
Azerbaijan-Armenia-Turkey meeting on hold
The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia have decided to
postpone their trilateral meeting on ways to put an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and bring Armenian-Turkish relations back to normal, which was due to
take place on the sidelines of the session of the UN General Assembly in New
York recently. "The parties decided to postpone the meeting due to the fact
that the ministers will be in New York at different times," the Azerbaijani
Foreign Ministry's press service said on September 20th. The countries'
diplomats will negotiate a new date for the meeting, the press service said.
BP ups Shah-Deniz gas field estimate by 100 bcm
The drilling of three advance wells at the Shah-Deniz gas deposits in Azerbaijan
provides evidence that reserves there are 100 billion cubic metres (bcm) greater
than initially supposed, BP's manager for the Shah-Deniz project, Michael Lutzm,
said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
These three wells were drilled through the Svita Pereryva producing stratum and
discovered gas deposits of around 100 bcm, Lutz said. A full study of the new
stratum's reserves will be conducted when a fourth boring is done. BP plans to
drill this fourth well in the field's southern area, deeper than any well so
far, Lutz said. It will be used to determine whether there is a new producing
stratum and, if so, what its reserves are, he said.
BP is now deciding on the timing and depth for the well, and is having a tender
to select a contractor for the drilling that Caspian Drilling Company and its
Istiglal outfit, Lutz said.
The first three wells were drilled under a programme aimed at speeding up the
process of oil extraction after the building at the plant of an extraction
platform. They were drilled at the site for the platform so production can begin
immediately after it is built.
Shah-Deniz holds an estimated 625 bcm of gas and 101m tonnes of condensate.
Stage-1 development includes the production of 178bn cubic metres of gas and 34m
tonnes of condensate. During peak production under Stage-1 the field will
produce 8.4bn cubic metres of gas and two million tonnes of condensate a year.
Gas will be produced from 15 wells at the TPG-500 platform at sea depths of 105
metres. Production will increase to 16bn cubic metres a year in the later stages
of the project.
Baku mulls over Danish oil, gas cooperation
Azerbaijan is interested in Danish participation in the oil and gas sector in
the republic, Azeri Foreign Minister, Elmar Mamedyraov, said recently at a
meeting with Danish Foreign Minister, Per Stig Moller. "The company Maersk
Construction has already successfully entered the Azeri oil and gas sector, but
we are also interested in participation by other companies in this area,"
Mamedyarov said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Moller said that Denmark is interested in developing relations with Azerbaijan,
particularly in the oil and gas sphere. He said that the experience of Danish
companies in this sphere could be of use to Azerbaijan.
Moller said that Azerbaijan could also use Danish experience in the area of
environmental protection during the development of offshore oil and gas fields.
BP central Azeri pipelines ready
BP Azerbaijan manager John Jerzak recently announced that the subsea pipelines
from the Central Azeri field to the Sangachal Terminal of the
Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli project are ready to receive first oil, Azertaj reported.
He said the pipelines have undergone necessary tests, and that upper modules
will be installed on the Chirag platform and the subsea pipelines joined with
them soon. Laying of a 30' oil and a 28' gas subsea pipelines with the total
length of 186km each from the Central Azeri field to the Sangachal Terminal
under Phase-1 commenced in June 2003.
SOCAR extends diesel contract with BP Oil
Azeri state oil company SOCAR has extended a diesel supply contract with British
Petroleum trader BP Oil until the end of 2004, a source in the company said
recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
The contract to supply 200,000 tonnes of diesel expired in August 2004 and SOCAR
has supplied 186,000 tonnes to date. The source said that it would not be
economically viable to hold a new tender to select a buyer for the diesel.
"BP Oil offered a good price. A drop in demand for diesel is currently
being noted on the world market and a new tender could lead to a drop in
price," the source added. He said that SOCAR is not tied by contractual
obligations regarding the volume of supplies - these will be agreed on a monthly
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Baku and Tehran ink 10 cooperation agreements
Azerbaijan and Iran signed 10 cooperation agreements in Baku on August 5th, with
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami taking part,
Interfax news agency reported recently. The agreements include a deal with Iran
offering a €75m credit for the construction of four substations for the
Imishli-Alibrairamly-Astara power line, as well as an agreement on cooperation
in the exchange of natural gas.
The two countries signed a memorandum of mutual understanding between their
environmental agencies, a cultural cooperation agreement, a protocol on
cooperation in transportation and a memorandum on financing the overhaul of the
"With the realisation of these agreements, 1,000 new jobs will be created
in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is very interested in further developing mutual
relations with Iran. The gas exchange agreement will make it possible to provide
the Nakhichevan autonomous district with gas and electric power," Aliyev
Khatami said the two countries' historical and geographical proximity is
security for their successful cooperation. "There is no problem that cannot
be resolved through negotiation. We will be developing our mutual relations
comprehensively," Iran's president said.
Kars-Tbilisi railway project changes
The Kars-Tbilisi railway project will be revised and connected to a railway that
will be constructed in Azerbaijan, Anadolu agency reported recently. Technical
delegations from Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan met recently in the Turkish
Transportation Ministry building in Ankara and they decided to put into force a
new double-track railway project that will connect Turkey's eastern Kars
province to Azeri capital Baku, via Georgia's Tbilisi city, in an effort to
revive the historical Silk Road. The railway will be 180km in length and nearly
70km of it will be on Turkish soil, 30km on Georgian territory and 80km in
Azerbaijan, Azertaj reported on August 13th. The parties already have a
cooperation project called Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) to transport Caspian oil
into European markets via Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. This time the three
countries will make a significant investment in the transportation sector by
implementing a double-track railway project. The parties are planning to raise a
loan from international markets to finance the construction of the
Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway which is estimated to cost US$500m.
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