Opening address of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of signature of the resolution of the first phase of full-scale development of deposits "Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli" - August 30, 2001

Ladies and gentlemen!

Today we have gathered here on the occasion of a new significant event in the life of Azerbaijan. In September, 1994, the contract was signed between the Azerbaijani State Oil Company and 11 oil companies of the world on joint developments in the deposits of "Azeri", "Chirag" and "Guneshli", located in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. From the date of signature of this contract it was called in the world as "the Contract of the Century ", and since then it draws attention of the entire world.

After the ratification of contract by the Azerbaijani Parliament, 11 oil companies created here a consortium by name of the International Operational Company. Together with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan they started to take necessary measures for the implementation of the contract. Naturally, here it was necessary to do the big spadework. All this was put successfully into practice, and in October, 1997 on the platform installed in the oil deposit "Chirag", the early oil was extracted. Since the Azerbaijan International Operational Company together with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan realized the construction of two oil pipelines for providing the export of oil which will be extracted in future. The Baku-Novorossiysk line for the delivery of oil in the Novorossiysk port of the Black Sea and the Baku-Supsa line for the delivery of oil to the Supsa port of Georgia on the Black Sea have been constructed.

Naturally, many other works have been carried out, too. In Sangachal a big terminal has been constructed, large engineering works for the delivery of oil and gas to the coast have been conducted, rigs, pipelines have been built, they enable to export. Since then and until today 15 million 400 thousand tons of oil and together with it associated gas has been produced, too. The extracted oil has been exported, and the associated gas has been given to the use of Azerbaijan.

However, the work done since was the initial stage of the big oil contract. On the basis of the accepted program the International Operational Company, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan have divided these works into some phases, the first, the second, the third phase for conducting necessary works in these deposits. It means, the work done till now is considered to be the initial phase. And now a new phase in the realization of the "Contract of the Century" began. It refers to the first phase. Naturally, for the beginning of the first phase it was necessary to make the decision on the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline.

Unfortunately, because of some reasons not depending on us this work was a little delayed. Nevertheless, already the given work has remained behind. Agreements on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline have been signed, necessary commercial work has been done, and engineering-prospecting works are already being conducted now. And next year the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline begins. Therefore, on the basis of the performed work it became possible to start the first phase of this large-scale contract.

Here, naturally, it is necessary to do much. It is necessary to coordinate many questions. In this field, both the International Operational Company, and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and the Steering Committee uniting all this have done extremely big work. At last, the agreement on the beginning of the first phase was achieved. Agreements were prepared and will be signed here. Thus, we shall provide the consecutive realization of the "Contract of the century".

The agreement which today will be signed is large enough. We do not have opportunity to disclose it here entirely, besides, there are a lot technical questions. However, in this connection the agreement on the resolution was signed between the Azerbaijan International Operational Company and the Azerbaijan State Oil Company. Therefore, I think that it is necessary to declare to you the given resolution in order to inform you about this agreement in detail.

Concluding Speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev

Ladies and gentlemen!

I think that Mr. Woodward gave in his speech detailed information on the work which we today start, on its future and the new successes which it will bring to the Azerbaijan people, to the Azerbaijani Republic.

Mr. Woodward, I thank you heartily, the representatives of all foreign companies forming the International Operational Company, the experts who have arrived from abroad working in these companies, and together with them the employees of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani oilmen for the teamwork done up to this day.

We spoke much about heavy and difficult conditions when "the Contract of the Century" was signed. This process is well known both in the public of Azerbaijan, and to the international community. But the realization of this contract was not easy. We have overcome many difficulties. We settled many heavy and difficult problems. Thus, after the signature of "the Contract of the Century" we all worked hard and achieved successes known to all.

The work done up to this day, the extracted oil in the deposit of "Chirag" and its export have already produced profits for the oil companies and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and also to Azerbaijan. As a result of it the State Oil Fund was set up in Azerbaijan and its finances exceed 430 million dollars. Each company participating in this contract has received profits due to it. Thus, we see the practical result of the realized work, that is, we see the profit produced by this business, and we can use it as well.

To start the first phase of this project it was necessary to sign an agreement on the construction of the main export oil pipeline - the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. Today I want to note that none of these ways were easy for us. Moreover, we faced some objective and subjective obstacles. Today it is necessary to acknowledge openly that some companies in the International Operational Company, still have their own views on the oil produced in the deposit of "Chirag" and its future, they hesitate in the question of the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. There were also views concerning its cost, investments to the construction of the pipeline. And it prevented the duly settlement of the question. But we have removed all this as a result of our teamwork, our co-operation. Today the agreement on the first phase was signed. I can bravely tell that the agreement signed has today decisive role in the implementation of "the Contract of the Century".

I congratulate the International Operational Company, all the Azerbaijani oilmen, all the Azerbaijan people on the occasion of the signature of this agreement with all my heart and I want to express the hope that the program on the basis of this agreement will be executed in due time and we will become witnesses of its practical results.

Signature of "the Contract of the Century ", its realization and our cooperation with many companies both in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian sea, and in the onshore deposits are integral parts of the oil strategy of Azerbaijan. However, today Mr. Woodward stated here a fine idea. I think that it is absolutely true: In oil branch, oil strategy of Azerbaijan the new era began". Yes, henceforth we should use this idea, as a very important expression for us: new oil strategy of Azerbaijan and a new era of oil industry of Azerbaijan!

The work done till now already has produced good results. In particular, it has done much for our country, for our people, for the development of economy of Azerbaijan, for opening of new workplaces in the country, for the participation of various companies, organizations of Azerbaijan in the implementation of the given project and, finally, for the improvement of the well-being of the Azerbaijani people.

But these are only the beginning. Today Mr. Woodward noted that in connection with the realization of the first phase 3000 workplaces will additionally open. All these workplaces will belong to the citizens of Azerbaijan. The potentials of many enterprises of Azerbaijan producing the oil equipment, ships of our fleet in the Caspian Sea, large-capacity ships of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan will be involved. Thus, first, they will work, function, get profit, and second, all this will contribute to the development of economy of Azerbaijan and improve the well-being of our people.

I think that for the realization of all these it is necessary to use maximally the potential of the industry of Azerbaijan. Addressing to the International Operational Company, I say to them: everything not suffice in Azerbaijan, you will bring from abroad. However, I ask you and I will also supervise the use of the potential available in Azerbaijan. And the potential is great enough. Without it, drilling rigs "Dede Korkud", "Istiglal", "Gurtulush" would have not been set up.

I am familiar with the project. I know that you will effectively take advantages of the racket factory constructed by us in 70th years. You even will mount the main part of the platform and then install it on this platform by sliding method. I was informed that till now such a method has not been used in the world. You will do it. Thus, our huge factory will work, its workers will be occupied, will receive profit. And you will not deliver here the equipment from abroad, from other places. You should use everything that is available in Azerbaijan.

Mr. Woodward informed how much will be invested and incomes for billions will be received. Speaking about billions, I don`t mean manats, I mean the dollars of the United States of America.

Therefore, today I`m very happy. Because the work started by us in 1993, in 1994 produces results, and the horizons, prospects are clearly seen. I think that our people, the public of Azerbaijan, having learned about today`s ceremony on TV and from media, will feel pride, because Azerbaijan resolutely develops its economy. And each person will believe that the well-being of the Azerbaijan people will improve every day.

As before, I will control the realization of this project and I am ready to render you any help.

Mr. Woodward, you have noted that the main condition for the arrival of big foreign oil companies in Azerbaijan, inflow of big investments into our republic are due to the political stability established in the country. Yes, I declare with a feeling of boundless pride that it is one of the main achievements of the Azerbaijani people, administration of Azerbaijan, the democratic, legal, secular Azerbaijani state. And you, and other companies of the world, going to make investments into Azerbaijan, can be sure that the political stability every day will become stronger, we will never admit its infringements, and, thus, Azerbaijan will create henceforth all conditions for the attraction of investments of various companies of the world.

Once again I congratulate you and I wish you successes in this work.