'Europe must seize Azerbaijani gas with both hands'

Sat 11 February 2012 07:46 GMT | 11:46 Local Time

Text size: bigger smaller

Ali Masimli

News.Az interviews Ali Masimli, former premier of the Azerbaijani government, currently member of the parliamentary committee for economic policy of Milli Majlis.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunter Oettinger said that in the coming 2-3 months he expects Azerbaijan to take a decision on the ways to supply gas to Europe. What has caused the delay in adoption of a decision on this issue?

Azerbaijan is the only country which supports Nabucco in action rather than on words. Naturally, there are some technical and price issues related to the transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe. However, the delays in this issue deal a blow on Azerbaijan, since Azerbaijan is inserted pressure. However, this is unnoticeable in public policy, while pressure is inserted by the forces which strive not to allow the implementation of Nabucco.

Additionally, I have to noted that the volumes of natural gas exported by Azerbaijan are growing every year and the markets for the sale of this gas must be defined on par. For transition to the next phase of raising gas production, Azerbaijan needs investments which in turn require clarity on the markets of sale. However, there is no such clarity from the European part. “Gas wars”, “Gas blackmail”, or the loss of a definite volume of gas transported to Europe over sharp cold reminded the West of existence of the source of natural gas in Azerbaijan, in general, on the Caspian Sea.

In this respect, Europe must seize the alternative source of gas with both hands. However, it is regretful that negotiations on this issue are ‘secondary’. Responsible European officials and organizations must deal with the issue of Azerbaijani gas seriously. The diversification of energy sources is more necessary to Europe than Azerbaijan needs the solution of the issue to find new markets for the sale of its gas.

All the same, if the West wishes to involve member-states of the Eastern Partnership program into the projects of Europe, it must shift to the optimal model of studying the energy sources of the Caspian Sea. This model can be laying the gas pipeline by Caspian-Black Sea-Baltic Sea route. Azerbaijani gas can at least reach Eastern European countries while implementing this model.

Which route of Caspian gas supply to the European market is favorable for Azerbaijan?

As is known, Shahdeniz consortium views four projects on transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe. These are Nabucco, TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP) and ITGI, as well as the BP-initiated South European pipeline. BP’s proposal came after the delay with the adoption of the decision on implementation of the Nabucco project. Certainly, this variant is profitable in terms of supplies of Azerbaijani gas to Europe by existing pipelines. However, with the implementation of this project the issue of gas supply to European countries won’t be closed. Therefore, the project of Nabucco will remain on the agenda.

Does the current international influence of Azerbaijan, its importance for Europe, as one of the important oil and  gas sources allow official Baku to set political provisions to Western countries?

Oil and gas in the modern world mean not only economy, but a big policy written with gold letters in geopolitics. The issue of energy security in a number of developed Western countries rose to the level of national security, since numerous problems appear in Europe when gas transportation is ceased. And if Azerbaijan plays a significant role in the resolution of such a strategically important problem of Europe as provision of energy security of the old continent, the European structures must in turn be attentive in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict which is significant for the security of not only Azerbaijan but also Caucasus.

At least, the European structures must fulfill the resolutions on Karabakh conflict which they passed. Europe must be respectful to the documents it signed which condemn the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia. Azerbaijan does not expect West’s assistance in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. All the same, Azerbaijan’s only wish is that the West does not demonstrate double standards in approaching the Karabakh settlement.

Should the revenues from oil and gas sale for future generations be saved or spent for the resolution of current problems? Do you think that the methods of managing money, transferred to the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan, are satisfactory?

I think that the approach to this issue from extreme positions is wrong. The truth is usually somewhere between these two extremities.

It is necessary to take into account the fact that the volume of Azerbaijan’s monetary reserves currently makes $40bn, with the main share accumulated in the Oil Fund. Overall, the  assets of the fund top the volumes used by this body up to date. All the same, it is necessary to take into account the fact that the spending of the fund tops the half of the assets accumulated there.

This is related to the resolution of urgent problems. Additionally, this is connected with the course of the country leadership on turning oil capital into human capital. In other words, part of the assets accumulated in the fund must be left to future generations, a stop taken by the government.




Most read articles

More from Economy

In The Region

Editor Picks

Azerbaijan Cuisine

Explore the food of Azerbaijan - from sherbet to succulent kebab, from baklava to fragrant pilaff

Follow us

Find us on Facebook