Conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the delegation headed by Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Energy of Norway, State Secretary Bjørg Sandal – Presidential Palace, June 4, 2001

Heydar Aliyev: Welcome to Azerbaijan. The Baku Oil and Gas Exhibition has brought you to Azerbaijan again. We have been together since the first Oil and Gas Exhibition in 1994 and worked together for holding the present exhibition. I am, therefore, pleased that you are adherent to these traditions. Please.

Bjørg Sandal: Thank you, Mr. President. Let me express my honor to meet you again. I am pleased to be able to visit your country once more. I have been to Azerbaijan before. For the first time Norway was represented by me at the Oil and Gas Exhibition held in Baku last year.

I am delighted for coming to Azerbaijan once more as the head of the Norwegian delegation to the Oil and Gas Exhibition this year. Using this opportunity I deliver the best regards and wishes of the Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg. As you know, he is a friend of Azerbaijan and has visited your country before.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes. Thank you.

Bjørg Sandal: Mr. President, I express my pleasure to visit your country in order to take part at this exhibition. Your friends, including the representatives of Statoil of Norway, are also here. They represent a company which is actively involved in oil and gas industry and investments in Azerbaijan. I think that the participation of the representatives of political authorities of our country in oil and gas exhibitions has become a tradition. We foresee and are interested in great prospects of the comprehensive development of our relations with Azerbaijan. While being here I was informed of the rapid implementation of reforms in governmental bodies of your country in the recent years. Today we had meetings with the minister of Fuel and Energy and the minister of Economic Development. Those meetings were quite interesting, but we were looking forward to meet you.

Mr. President, energy is of paramount importance in Norway as it is in your country. I think that it is the main factor linking our countries closer to each other. We effectively cooperate in this sphere. I wish you and the Azerbaijani people successes in your structural reforms in the government.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I completely agree with your words. The relations between Norway and Azerbaijan established a few years ago have been rapidly developing indeed. Naturally, it is, first of all, connected with the energy sector. Statoil is one of the first companies to come to our country to cooperate with us in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. I remember that we carried out the first exhibition together in 1994. The first contract branded as the Contract of the Century was signed in the September of that year. Statoil has a big share in that contract. Supposedly, both you and we are pleased that the contract justified itself and was implemented into life, we extracted oil in 1997, export it and take profit. Statoil is one of the companies cooperating with us also within the framework of the contract on Shah-Deniz. As you know, we have achieved good results in this field, as well. Statoil has forwarded initiatives in other deposits. Along with Statoil, other companies of Norway not directly involved in oil extraction, but provide supplementary services for oil production, successfully operate in Azerbaijan.

Although Norway is a small country like Azerbaijan, the Norwegian companies hold a leading position among the companies operating in our country. Naturally, it is, first of all, due to their high-level performance. At the same time, it is the result of the friendship and cooperation between our countries. The Norwegian Premier Mr. Stoltenberg visited Azerbaijan a couple of times when he served as minister of Energy. We had several remarkable meetings. I am pleased that he is now Prime Minister of Norway. Please, deliver him my best regards.

Bjørg Sandal: Mr. President, certainly, I shall.

As you know, the oil and gas history of Norway is shorter than that of your country. Nevertheless, we were lucky and smart enough to build a strong oil and gas industry in Norway within a short period.

Mr. President, I felt satisfied and proud of what you said about the Norwegian companies operating in Azerbaijan. Recently we have launched unprecedented changes in determining the governmental policy in the energy sector, in oil and gas industry of our country. These structural changes, first of all, embrace Statoil. They aim at strengthening Statoil.

Mr. President, you were right when noted that in the recent years Statoil has been taken an active part in a number of projects in Azerbaijan. You and I, as a member of the government, are very interested in investments. In this regard, I want to emphasize that so far Statoil is the second biggest company to have invested in the energy sector of Azerbaijan. We hold the second place for the volume of investments. I want to say that Statoil will be committed to further cooperation with your country. It intends to actively participate in new projects in Azerbaijan. Statoil notices well the emergence of new horizons in the development of Azerbaijan.

Mr. President, it was pleasant to hear your positive opinion on the activities of Statoil and other Norwegian companies in Azerbaijan. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. Yes, the oil history of Norway is not so long. But as you said, thank to God, unexpected oil and gas deposits were discovered in the North Sea. Second, you have developed up to the level of world standards the supplementary sectors that serve the oil and gas industry. Therefore, Statoil and other Norwegian companies operate not only in the North Sea, but also in the Caspian Sea and elsewhere in the world. Your country has great prospects in this area. You mentioned about conducting structural changes, which, I reckon, will facilitate your business. We are ready to cooperate with you in other projects. Your country and firms do a lot, but are not so ambitious. We are very close to each other. Thus, I believe that our joint business has a promising future. 

Bjørg Sandal: Mr. President, it was pleasant to hear that. I know that your government is about to adopt serious decisions on the energy sector. I wish you and your country successes in adopting and implementing those decisions.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Bjørg Sandal: Mr. President, once again I express my pleasure to have come to Baku in order to participate in the oil and gas exhibition. I look forward to your participation at the opening of the exhibition tomorrow. I`ll be very glad to see you again. Besides the oil and gas exhibition, I am going to attend the conference to be held within the framework of the exhibition. Furthermore, during my stay in your country, I am going to get acquainted with the projects implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council in Baku and in the adjacent districts connected with the assistance rendered to refugees and internally displaced persons and visit the refugee camps.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I am very pleased to hear it.

Bjørg Sandal: Mr. President, I thank you for finding time to receive us. On behalf of the Norwegian government, I want to declare that we intend to broaden and even strengthen our relations and cooperation with Azerbaijan. I express my gratitude with a wish to meet you tomorrow again.

Heydar Aliyev: We also intend to expand and strengthen our cooperation. We`ll meet tomorrow.

 Bjørg Sandal: With pleasure.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Brief essays


General historical background