Speech by Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the meeting devoted to the commissioning of "Dede-Gorgud" semi-submerging floating drilling rig. 24 August 1996

Ladies and gentlemen!

Dear guests and oil workers!

Dear friends!

I congratulate you, all the citizens of Azerbaijan and our people with all my heart on this remarkable occasion, on commencing the work of the drilling rig Dede-Gorgud. We are witnessing a historical event today. We are celebrating a new and very important stage in the realization of the "Contract of the Century" signed in September 1994 between SOCAR and big oil companies of many countries. Today, the semi-submerging drilling rig named "Dede-Gorgud" will provide drilling work on the basis of the contract, and in future, the extraction of oil from deposits in the depth of the sea and earth in Azerbaijan.

As you see, Dede-Gorgud drilling-rig is a huge and the most complicated installation equipped with high technology and it will take its worthy place in the oil industry of Azerbaijan.

The oil workers of Azerbaijan have been extracting oil from the depth of the Caspian Sea since 1949. They have gained great popularity in the world and success as oil producers from the depths in the sea. The work and successes of the Azerbaijan oil workers, scientists, geologists, engineers and specialists since 1949 have been in the service of the Azerbaijan people, enriched the natural resources of our republic and brought great fame to our oil workers and people in the world.

If you make an excursion to the history of activities of the oil workers of Azerbaijan, you will see that since 1949 they have improved their experience, year after year they have gone into the deep sea. Initially the oil was extracted in the depth of 20-30 meters of the sea, but in the 1970s, they already could manage to extract oil in the depth of 150 meters in the sea. The past experience, achievements and research inventions of the oil workers of Azerbaijan have been applied in many countries of the world and were made use of it. The oil workers and scientists of Azerbaijan have made their own contribution to the world experience in extracting oil from the depth of the sea. Due to the intensive activities and researches of Azerbaijan oilmen, big oil deposits were explored in the Caspian Sea, the potentials of these deposits were annually investigated and made concrete. Now we have great opportunities to make use of those data at a large scale.

In conformity with the big oil contract signed in September 1994 for the term of 30 years, oil will be extracted in deposits "Azeri", "Chirag" and in the deep parts of "Guneshli" deposits in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. I want to remind you that all these deposits were discovered in 1970s by the oil workers and geologists of Azerbaijan. The oil potentials were revealed and later oil deposits were investigated more thoroughly and turned into the wealth of the Azerbaijan people. Owing to all this data, the Contract of the Century was signed in 1994. Now the drilling-rig around which we have assembled today and which we are going to give a new life was the result of activities of 1970s, due to which it began to operate in 1981, did drilling in various parts of the Caspian Sea, extracted oil and increased the oil output in Azerbaijan.

We have assembled in one of the most beautiful parts of Baku, of Azerbaijan. This picturesque place on the shore of the Caspian Sea is a visual evidence of the beauty of the nature of Azerbaijan. Today the guests of this ceremony, the high state officials of Azerbaijan, representatives of oil industry see the changes in this territory that have taken place within 15-20 years. A huge complex exhibiting the oil industry of Azerbaijan has emerged here.

To develop the oil industry of the republic, to make an effective use of oil deposits in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea we adopted a decision in 1970s to construct the plant of deep water foundations, a plant able to construct such huge rigs here, in the place where we are standing now. We made many researches and considered many projects before the construction. Finally, at the end of the 70s, we purchased technology and equipments from one of the American company in the amount of 400 million USD and began the construction of this plant just here, on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Now we see the buildings, the production premises of this gigantic plant with a sense of pride.

When coming here today and seeing the huge plant frames and installations, the shore and the green trees which have already grown high around the plant in the place when it was quite a desert in the past, my heart was filled with pride. I am very glad and happy today. I am happy and glad because I am one of the founders, one of initiators of all this. I have toiled and worked for many years for all this, I have encountered many difficulties to turn all this into reality. Together with the oil men of Azerbaijan and with my colleagues, I have worked hard for my people, for my nation, for the construction of the industry of the republic, for the future development of the oil industry and created all this. I feel very happy when I see all this, when I look at them.

When we signed the big oil contract in September of 1994, we had solid foundations for it, that is, we signed the contract not on an empty place. We have great resources at our disposal. The rich oil deposits in the Caspian Sea, this gigantic industrial complex and the drilling rig which we are standing upon it and around, are the wealth of the Azerbaijan people. Just the feeling of this wealth, and being the owners on this wealth gave us made it possible opportunity to begin negotiations with foreign oil companies and sign the oil contract with them. When signing the contract we always felt that we have wealth, we are the owners of this wealth and we have the right to take steps and make joint use of this wealth with the oil companies of foreign countries. And the oil companies of foreign countries were also well aware of the opportunities of Azerbaijan before intending or going to sign this contract. Had they not realized the opportunities of our people and the Republic of Azerbaijan, they would not have signed this contract only because of our oil deposits, or would have approached to the contract with a great caution. Only because rich natural resources of Azerbaijan, because of its great industrial potential, because of its highly qualified specialists and oilmen, because of favorable conditions created here, the oil companies of foreign countries signed this great and historically important contract.

Dear friends, now you see so much work have been done in the previous years in order to make these fearless steps. If we had not done all that work, we would not have been able today to make these steps, and undoubtedly, begin these grand works. It proves that the works done in 1970s, the created great economic and industrial potential, the works in the sphere of oil industry and expanding of all this potential, are the basis of the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan as a state. If not all that, we could not have preserved our state independence. That is, the work done in the past are the basis for these years, for the independence of Azerbaijan. I want to declare you today that when accomplishing all this in those-years, I was thinking about the future, about today's independence of Azerbaijan. When I did those works, I was sure that they would create foundations for free and independent existence of Azerbaijan.

I note it with a feeling of satisfaction that the AIOC created by the oil consortium is implementing into life the adopted program successively. The contract is living and giving its fruit and being constructively implemented into life. Today’s ceremony is a sharp response to our opponents both abroad and at home, who were against the concluding of the contract. You know how difficult was the road to conclude this contract for us. We were subjected to pressures even after the signature of the contract. There were statements that the realization of the contract would be hampered. Various forces in different countries even now try to make obstacles for the realization of the contract. You also know that some of our evil-wishers at home were telling that the contract would remain on the paper only and tried very hard to make their words come true. Today they are being answered. The contract is working and implementing the program into life. I repeat it once more that today's ceremony is a good reply to all the hostile forces. All the companies in the consortium have been represented in AIOC. I think they have done a lot of work under the leadership of Mr. Terry Adams and they are also facing great tasks. SOCAR and AIOC are working very harmoniously, as a result of their joint work we are here today, in this ceremony. I want to express my confidence that the envisaged program will further be realized in time and successively.

The drilling rig Dede-Gorgud starts operating today. We have got acquainted with its various sections and equipments of the rig today and then we come here to meet you. The present state of the rig shows that much additions have been done upon the previous form of it. It has been really updated in conformity with principles of modern technology and brought to the present state. As I have been informed, today the rig will leave the shore for our oil deposits far in the sea and start drilling according to the planned program.

I thank heartily to AIOC, to Sante-Fe company, to SOCAR, to workers and specialists, to all concerned people who have done their best to update the rig and to raise it to the level to suit the name of Dede-Gorgud.

I thank Sante-Fe company and its president particularly. They have done much work. Another feature of this matter is that together with the invited foreign specialists, the local azeri specialists got training, been prepared before and are working on it jointly . Today when I walked on the rig, and observed its different parts, I saw persons in pairs everywhere, one being a foreigner, of course, speaking in a foreign language, the other our native specialist, speaking Azerbaijani of course, it is also a positive thing.

The work on the drilling-rig also shows that the specialists, oil men, engineers of Azerbaijan Republic are able to work shoulder to shoulder with the specialists of foreign oil companies and are ready to do joint work. Our future joint works will be very successful. Another positive feature of this work is that foreign specialists who have come for joint work have learned Azerbaijani language and got good command of it.

The interpreter of Mr. Terry Adams translated from English only into Russian and spoke Russian a year ago. But today he speaks Azerbaijani so fluently and interprets Mr. Terry Adams' speech very well for us in the nature. I was also delighted by the head of the Sante-Fe company who made the opening of his speech in Azerbaijani as a start. It all shows that our official language Azerbaijani is a ruling language in the republic. Not only Azerbaijanis, but also our friends, guests and colleagues from abroad respect our language, they want to learn and speak this language. It is very rejoicing. It also shows the development of our national language as one of main attributes of our independent republic.

This drilling-rig was given the name of Dede-Gorgud. We have discussed the choice of this name before. Before coming to this ceremony, I was informed on the performed work by Mr. Terry Adams and Natig Aliyev. We discussed many problems. Particularly we mentioned the future works and the name of the rig in detail. You know that previously the Russian name of this rig was "Kaspmorneft" (Caspian Sea oil). You know that it does not suit our life today. Besides, since the rig begins its second life, therefore it must have its new name. I must say that I was proposed of about ten names connected with traditions, history and various places of Azerbaijan. All of them were worthy for naming the rig. But I adopted a decision to call it Dede-Gorgud. I think this name is very sacred and dear for each Azerbaijani, and therefore, worthy to name the rig by it.

I wish great success to the rig "Dede-Gorgud!"

I wish success to everyone who is involved in the work of this rig, a successful joint work to both Azerbaijani and the citizens and specialists from abroad!

Long live the rig "Dede-Gorgud"!

Congratulations on the start and operation of the rig "Dede-Gorgud"!

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