Books on Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan - a nation of Turkic Muslims - has been an independent republic since
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a cease-fire, in place since
1994, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the
Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh enclave (largely Armenian populated). Azerbaijan
has lost almost 20% of its territory and must support some 750,000 refugees and
internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of the conflict. Corruption is
ubiquitous and the promise of widespread wealth from Azerbaijan's undeveloped
petroleum resources remains largely unfulfilled.
Update No: 281- (27/05/04)
Ilham Aliyev's power base is fracturing. Elected in succession to his father in October last year, he is still an uncertain number. There is a jockeying for power within the ruling New Azerbaijani Party.
Recent media attacks upon the mayor of Baku, Hajibala Abutalibov, have fuelled speculation that there is a power struggle going on. Abutalibov has long been a butt of the opposition, including the Yeni Musavat newspaper. Shortly after publication of the Azerbaijan article, several state-run broadcast media outlets aired features that were critical of Abutalibov's performance.
During a subsequent parliamentary debate, ruling party MPs both defended and chastised Abutalibov. Some pro-government deputies called on their colleagues, as well as state-run media, not to air differences in public. "I believe YAP [the ruling New Azerbaijan Party] has done a lot for Azerbaijan and the official newspaper of the parliament should refrain from these kinds of accusations and slanders," said Musa Musayev, a YAP deputy.
In addition to the Baku mayor, state-run media has criticized the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. The newspaper Azerbaijan said Aliyev has received thousands of complaints about the performance of both ministries. This revelation prompted some political observers to suspect that presidential Chief-of-Staff Ramiz Mehtiyev may be orchestrating a media campaign to discredit his rivals for influence within the ruling party.
Minister of Education Misir Mardanov's response to the criticism appeared to lend credence to the notion that Mehtiyev was somehow involved in the attacks. "I know which forces are behind these articles and I advise them to refrain from them," Mardanov told Lider TV. Mardanov and Ali Insanov, the Minister of Health, are widely viewed as political rivals of Mehtiyev.
The New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) has long been known for its internal rivalries among various factions, political analysts in Baku say. Some of the factions comprise politicians from the same region, such as the Nakhichevan exclave. Other groups inside the YAP are formed around common economic interests. Former president Heidar Aliyev was widely recognized as a master politician, capable of maintaining a delicate balance among factions. Aliyev's son Ilham, who became president in 2003, is widely viewed as not having anywhere near the same level of political acumen as his deceased father, how could it be otherwise. Thus, many political observers predicted that Ilham might find it difficult to keep the ambitions of his top lieutenants in check.
The YAP appeared to come together in order to ensure a dynastic succession in Azerbaijan, formalized during the country's controversial presidential election last October. Now that the father-to-son transition seems secure, the factions within the YAP may be focusing their energy on securing a greater degree of influence within the younger Aliyev's administration.
Abutalibov makes for a relatively easy political target, given the considerable criticism over the chaotic nature of Baku's growth in recent years. The construction of office buildings and other edifices has not been well regulated, critics contend, leading to a drastic reduction of green space in the capital. The mayor has also been assailed for pursuing overzealous urban renewal policies that have led to the destruction of kiosks that were a primary source of income for Azerbaijanis displaced by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In addition, many Baku residents complain about the poor quality of the city's roads.
Aliyev has not issued any public comment on the Azerbaijan newspaper criticism of the Baku mayor. However, the president is on record as having earlier instructed Abutalibov to make sure that urban development proceeds "according to the general plan of the city." Observers do not believe that the recent signs of manoeuvring within the YAP threaten its ability to govern. However, the president will have to start paying more attention to internal YAP politics in order to prevent the intra-party rivalries from becoming a problem down the road.
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan to be ready by mid-2005
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil export pipeline will be ready for use in the first half of 2005, David Woodward, president of British Petroleum Azerbaijan, said in Tbilisi recently after a meeting between an Azerbaijan delegation and Georgian Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, New Europe reported recently.
He said that at the moment 60% of construction work has been completed on the Georgian side: pipes have been welded on 150km of the 248km section. "The pipeline will be ready for use in the first half of next year," Woodward said.
In turn, Natik Aliyev, president of Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, said that the pipeline is being built according to plan and will be completed on schedule. "For us, as for international financial and oil circles, this has been and continues to be a priority," Aliyev said.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project will cost US$3.6bn. The future pipeline will stretch 1,767km (443km through Azerbaijan, 248km through Georgia and 1,076km through Turkey) and will have a capacity of 50m tonnes of oil per year.
Participants in the BTC project are: British Petroleum (30.1%), SOCAR (25%), Unocal (8.9%), Statoil (8.71%), TPAO (6.53%), ENI (5.0%), Itochu (3.4%), ConocoPhillips (2.5%), Inpex (2.5%), TotalFinaElf (5.0%), and Amerada Hess (2.36%).
Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli Phase-3 to be sanctioned soon
Sanctioning of Phase-3 of the full-scale development of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli project in the Azeri sector of the Caspian Sea, involving the development of the deep-water section of the Gunashli field, is planned for September 2004, Interfax News Agency reported.
BP Azerbaijan President, David Woodward, said at a press conference in Baku recently that detailed engineering work is continuing at the moment and in September the company expects the project to be sanctioned.
Woodward said that two platforms will be installed at the deep-water Gunashli field - a production well and a water injection well, connected to the first.
He said that one production well would be sufficient to lift hydrocarbons from the Gunashli field and also to further develop the western part of the Chirag field. However, he said that if it is necessary a unit will be built underwater to drill additional wells towards western Chirag. He said that the exact cost of Phase-3 would only be established after the detailed engineering work is completed. Sanction for the start of work on the phases of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli project will be received from the management committee of Azerbaijan International Operating company, the operator of the project in which all the shareholders are represented.
Phase-3 is the last phase in the development of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli fields. Phase-3 reserves amount to 1.1bn barrels of oil, from total reserves at the block of 5.4bn barrels, or 730m tonnes.
Phase-3 will involve the production of 200,000 barrels per day and total production from the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli fields will amount to 1m barrels per day.
The concept for the development of Phase-3 is similar to the concept for Phase-1, which deals with the development of the central part of the Azeri field.
According to preliminary information, Phase-3 will cost 20%-30% more than Phase-1, due to increased water depth, the use of additional measures to support bed pressure from the first day of production, the drilling of wells without a platform and the installation of underwater equipment to produce and transport oil.
Participants in the contract currently include British Petroleum - 34.1367%, the US companies Unocal - 10.2814%, ExxonMobil - 8.0006%, Devon Energy - 5.6262%, and Amerada Hess - 1.0413%, Japan's INPEX Corp - 10% and ITOCHU Oil - 3.9205%, Norway's Statoil - 8.5633%, Turkey's TRAO - 6.75% and Saudi Delta Oil - 1.68%.
MINERALS & METALS
Gold pot lures foreigners
Canada's Ivanhoy, France's Kojena and India's Ispat are all interest in a gold field in the west of Azerbaijan, Azeri Minister for Ecology and Natural Resources Hussein Bagirov said at a press conference recently. "I hope that there will be a good tender between the companies, making it possible to sign an agreement with favourable conditions for the country," he said.
He added that work is continuing on evaluating and preparing a platinum field in the south of the country. The gold field is located in the republic's Dashkesan region and has estimated reserves of 100-150 tonnes of gold, New Europe reported.
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