Speech by Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Supsa at the ceremony held on the occasion of the commissioning of Baku-Supsa oil pipe-line - April 17, 1999

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Your Excellency, esteemed Mr.Edward Shevarnadze, President of Georgia!

Your Excellency, esteemed Mr.Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine!

Ladies and gentlemen, guests, friends!

I cordially welcome all of you and I declare that I feel very happy on the occasion of this pleasant meeting. I convey my sincere greetings to Georgian people, all Georgian citizens and I wish them peace, prosperity and progress.

Today we witness a historical event. A great and useful work on the construction of the Baku-Supsa oil pipe-line is over now and we are celebrating solemnly the shipping of the first tanker loaded with Caspian oil of Azerbaijan to the world markets.

Baku-Batumi oil pipeline, the first one in the Europe, was constructed at the beginning of this century. Now, at the turn of the XX-XXI centuries, we have constructed Baku-Supsa oil pipeline and it will forward the Azerbaijani oil to the world market. It became possible owing to the joint efforts of the State Oil companies of Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as foreign oil companies - members of Azerbaijan International Operation Company. This is a logical consequence of our efforts made in 1995-1997. This is the practical realization of the "Contract of Century" signed in Azerbaijan on September 20, 1994 between State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and 11 largest oil companies of the world representing 9 countries. Signing of the "Contract of Century" on September 20, 1994 is the beginning of the new oil strategy and doctrine of independent Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is an ancient country of oil and gas. 50 years ago, Azerbaijan commenced the commercial oil production at the seabed for the first time in the world experience. In November, 1949 in Neft Dashlari (Oil Rocks) oilfield in the Caspian Sea a strong oil flow was stuck and it announced all over the world the new epoch of oil production at the sea.

Nowadays Azerbaijan is an initiator of the hydrocarbon raw stuff development in the Caspian Sea with the participation of major oil companies from many countries of the world. The "Contract of Century" signed in 1994 laid the basis for the realization of this oil doctrine. This was not an easy task. We had to pass the hard tests and overcome many obstacles for concluding and realization of this contract.

However, even after signing the contract, we faced with difficult problems and tragic events. You should know that bloody terror acts were committed against the political figures of Azerbaijan just a few days after signing the contract. A few days later of these events an attempt for armed coup d`etat was committed, and it was made with support of special foreign services and internal extreme opposition.

But it didn`t come to the end with this. After a few months, an attempt for a coup d`etat was reiterated. After this, other attempts for terror acts were made. All these were connected with the fact that, being an independent state, Azerbaijan began to conduct an independent policy, it has independently determined how to use its natural resources, oil and gas reserves and taking a decision to realize it jointly with western oil companies which ensured the flow of foreign investment to Azerbaijan and to Caspian Sea basin as a whole.

We overcame all those difficulties: "Contract of Century" is being realized. In November of 1997, we extracted the first oil from "Chirag" oil field and started to transport it via Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline. This oil pipeline was constructed particularly for this purpose in accordance with a contract signed by Azerbaijan and Russia.

But even at that time, while planning the export itineraries of our oil to the world markets, we thought it necessary to have an alternative oil pipeline on the western itinerary. Frankly speaking, it was met disapprovingly in some circles and countries. But we reached what we desired - a contract was signed between Azerbaijan and Georgia and starting the designing of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, we made available all necessary for construction of this pipeline.

Today I am very happy that we succeeded to realize a great program on oil production and its export in the period lasting a bit more than 4 years.

Of course, this is the result of joint efforts. Having signed the first contact in 1994, we continue this work jointly with other oil companies of the world. The support provided by the world oil companies, their considerable interest in the natural resources, hydrocarbon reserves laying beneath the Caspian Sea and in the Azerbaijani sector of Caspian in particular, and their investments will ensure the successful implementation of this project.

In the period elapsed since September 1994, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic has signed more 15 large oil contracts on the joint exploration of oilfields in the Azerbaijani sector of Caspian Sea as well as on the dry in Azerbaijan territory. Some 32 major oil companies representing 14 countries of the world take part in these contracts. That is a huge work we conducted in the sphere of investments in order to develop the natural resources of the Caspian Sea. Taking this initiative we stimulate the oil and gas development in the other sectors of the Caspian Sea. A considerable work is being done at the Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia and Iran sector of the Caspian Sea. We are delighted of these, because there is a huge oil and gas reserves at the Caspian Sea and they are sufficient for all Caspian littoral countries. Each country has its sector and it is the owner of reserves in its sector of the Caspian. Azerbaijan performs its activity within the limits of its sector; where there is large volume of oil and gas reserves in the Azerbaijani sector.

Some hostile circles not succeeded to hinder the realization of our oil strategy, started to spread different rumours and ideas as though Azerbaijan misinformed the world community about the anticipated sufficient oil reserves in the Caspian Sea and some oil companies were now less interested in Caspian Sea resources, particularly in Azerbaijan. That is lie, fiction!

Of course, the false information can`t alter the public opinion. But for making it clearer, I would like to add that some 50 billion USD worth investment is expected to deposit on 16 agreements signed with Azerbaijan. The reserves in the oil fields covered by these contacts are estimated to be between 4 to 10 billion tons. But these are still primary figures. By the way, we have still many oilfields in the Caspian sector and overland waiting their exploration. Signing more 3 large contracts with US oil companies is envisaged soon. That is a response to the false information spread in MASS-MEDIA of some countries.

Hence the works commenced in 1994 are already yielding the practical results. The Baku-Supsa pipeline, a great terminal constructed here, favorable conditions created for successful work, and uninterrupted oil transfer and its shipment to the world markets provide a convincing evidence for that.

Baku-Supsa oil pipeline is a striking example of friendship and cooperation existing between Georgia and Azerbaijan. Our peoples have always cooperated successfully on the mutually beneficial basis. Centuries-old friendship of Georgian and Azerbaijani people is our invaluable property. We protect, develop and expand further this friendship in new conditions.

There is a plenty of examples of effective cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia. But nowadays the Baku-Supsa pipeline is undoubtedly the peak of this cooperation.

At the same time, there are large perspectives of our cooperation. We have signed a declaration on the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in October last year in Ankara. These works are under way. Recently, just few days ago, the Center of strategic studies of the United States of America held a large discussion on Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project in Istanbul. The discussion was attended by Mr.Morningstar and Mr.Kalitski present today here, as well as by representatives of Azerbaijan and Turkey. A protocol on concrete practical measures for the realization of construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was signed there between Turkey and Azerbaijan. It was decided to determine all technical and financial issues during the next three months for proceeding to the next phase of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project.

Another important project is connected with the transportation of Turkmen gas to Turkey via Azerbaijan and Georgia. An appropriate agreement was signed between Turkey and Turkmenistan in October last year and it is under way. Azerbaijan and Georgia take an important place in the realization of this project.

This is to say that there are great works to do in the future. Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey gas pipeline are large projects that will ensure our cooperation, especially cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia in the future.

I must say that we meet the support and benevolence of our friends in all our deeds. Among them is Ukraine, its President - esteemed Leonid Danilovich Kuchma. The cooperation between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine, active efforts on the part of president Leonid Danilovich Kuchma play an extremely important role. Owing to our joint efforts, the Caspian and the Black seas are interlinking economically. For the realization of the large projects of our region, the Ukraine and Georgia located at Black Sea, and Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia and other countries located at Caspian Sea, must integrate more closely.

All our works, and Baku-Supsa pipeline, in particular, are important contribution to the strengthening of stability and peace in the Caucasus. We are in need of peace, we need peaceful Caucasus, we need stability, we must put an end to the armed conflict, establish good relationships with Caucasian states as well as countries surrounding our region. In this connection the Baku-Supsa pipeline is an important factor of stability and peace in our region.

Speaking about all this, I must mention the great support provided by many countries of the world interested in the use of hydrocarbon reserves of Caspian Sea, and in particular that of United States of America. We appreciate the support that we received while signing the "Contract of Century" in 1994. We appreciate the support that we received during decision of the construction of pipeline Baku-Supsa on the western itinerary. We appreciate support that we receive now for construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Owing to the intense efforts of United States America, the Turkey-Turkmenistan Transcaspian gas pipeline project turned into reality. We feel very happy in connection with congratulation sent by Bill Clinton, US President on the occasion of this solemn event. I think that all these have laid a good basis for cooperation of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine with the West, European countries, the European Union and United States of America. We attach a great importance to it and we will undertake all necessary measures for further promotion of this cooperation.

Dear friends, I cordially congratulate the President of Georgia, my friend Edward Shevardnadze and all georgian people, as well as all our friends present today here on the occasion of this remarkable event. Dear friends, I wish you all happiness, prosperity and new successes.

I congratulate the Azerbaijan International Operation Company on the occasion of distinguished results achieved in realization of "Contract of Century", construction of Baku-Novorossiysk and Baku-Supsa pipelines. A great work has been done in a short period. I must say that forces opposing our plans said that this project was not feasible, it was unreal. In September of this year, we are going to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the "Contract of Century", but look, what a great work has been done and a sound basis was laid for continuing these works further. I thank all companies entering the consortium of Azerbaijan International Operation Company and the leadership of this company.

I cordially welcome Leonid Danilovich Kuchma here, in Georgia, at the same time in Azerbaijan - it doesn`t matter, it is the same. To be in Georgia is to be in Azerbaijan. I welcome him and I am glad that he showed great interest to this event. I am glad that Ukraine has particular plans for use of hydrocarbon resources of the Caspian Sea. I think that Odessa-Brodi with further extension of oil pipeline to Poland is a reality too, we must take it into consideration and we have to work on it. Therefore, the presence of Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine here is quite natural and is a very joyful event for all of us.

I congratulate all of you, and I believe that the Baku-Supsa pipeline will exist and operate in the course of the XXI century.

Thank you very much for your attention, I wish health, happiness and prosperity to all of you.