Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the 9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting

03 February 2023, 10:01
Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the 9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting

- Dear President Iohannis,

Dear Commissioner Simson,

Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I’d like to welcome the President of Romania, who is on an official visit to Azerbaijan, and express gratitude for his participation in today’s important event. This once again demonstrates the importance Romania is paying to the issues related to energy security. Our future joint steps will be done in close coordination between our two countries, which are strategic partners.

I also would like to especially express gratitude to Madame Commissioner Simson for their continuing support of all our initiatives, for every efficient co-chairing of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor and her contribution to the successful implementation of this important project.
Today we gathered for the ninth time. And, of course, we have a lot to talk about, to review what has been done, as we usually do, and, most importantly, to plan our future steps.

A lot has changed in the world since the 8th Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor, which was held here a year ago. The world has changed. Energy security issues have become more and more important for every country. And as we usually said during the meetings, energy security is really a matter of national security. And all that our joint efforts have done with respect to building new routes and engaging new sources now seem to be much more needed than ever before. And it was good that we did everything on time. We did not lose time though there have been certain delays during the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project. But, in general, we were just very committed to completing it as soon as possible, and now, by the way, we have already talked about expansion.

The Southern Gas Corridor was inaugurated only something more than two years ago. Still, already today, we talk about the expansion of TANAP from 16 to 32 billion cubic meters and the expansion of TAP from 10 to 20. This really demonstrates the significant need for alternative sources of energy. This demonstrates the significant need for continued diversification of energy supplies, and we are ready for that. So, all our joint efforts in previous years have made it possible today - it is at our disposal, and our team is becoming bigger. We have more flags today in this room and more distinguished guests.

There were several important milestones last year that demonstrated our joint commitment to energy security. First of all, I’d like to mention the important document, which was signed here in Baku between the President of the European Commission, Madame Ursula von der Leyen and myself on strategic partnership in the field of energy which was signed last July and which actually is a clear roadmap for our future plans. So, we plan by 2027 to double our gas export to Europe, and this is doable because we have resources. We have a mutual political will, and we have a very high level of mutual trust. So, one of the important factors in the successful implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project, apart from technical and sometimes political issues to be resolved, is the high level of mutual trust, and I would even call it mutual solidarity. When we immediately see someone in need, we try to support them. I think this is a good spirit of partnership and should be a guide for us in our future endeavors. Especially now, when along with the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council, we will have today the first Advisory Council on green energy.

Another important milestone was the inauguration of the Interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria, which of course, was generated by the Southern Gas Corridor project and is, to a certain degree, its extension, which allowed us to start supplying natural gas to Bulgaria and also consider expansion through that extension, through that interconnector to the neighboring countries.

Of course, December was a remarkable month for energy security because of two important events. First, the signing of an agreement between Azerbaijan and Romania on gas supply, and gas supply will start soon. So, Romania joins the team of countries as part of the Southern Gas Corridor. And also, the signing of an agreement on green energy development and transmission between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary and Romania will create additional synergy for our efforts and will actually open a new chapter in energy security. So, these were important milestones.

If we talk about this year, this January, we signed the MoU between Azerbaijan and Hungary on gas supplies. So, this even expands the number of countries and team members. And all that is due to, first, the close political relationship between the countries involved. Active coordination and efficient chairmanship by the European Commission and Azerbaijan of our efforts, and also, is a reflection of the energy dialogue, which has started and was formalized between the European Union and Azerbaijan, which embraces natural gas, electricity, hydrogen, and green hydrogen. I think this is a very unique and very efficient format for our cooperation.

So, as soon as the MOU with the European Commission on increasing gas supply to Europe was signed, we started in Azerbaijan to work actively to look for additional opportunities to supply more gas. Now, apart from expected production from new fields, which we expect, for instance, this year, and an increase of production from the existing Shahdeniz field, which definitely is the case, we also work on energy efficiency domestically. We are working on a program for the reduction of losses. We are working on a program combining our domestic needs with respect to electric energy and natural gas to save more gas, which we are using now to generate electricity in Azerbaijan for export.
Our natural gas export is growing. In 2021, it was around 19 billion cubic meters. Last year it was 22.6. And this year, we expect 24.5. So that means that the MOU with the European Commission is successfully implemented. We not only increase production, but we also increase export, and we expand the geography. And I'm sure that today the countries, which are involved in this project, will see and already see the benefit of it. And also it allows different other connections and potential interconnectors to connect many more European countries.

With respect to natural gas resources, I many times already said that we have natural gas reserves, which will be enough for us and our partners for at least 100 years. Today, we are, of course, looking forward to having the first Advisory Council on green energy. The team is relatively small.

We have four countries, but with the potential to grow. Because we think that not only the governments but also the companies will be interested in participating in this important initiative. At the first Advisory Council, of course, the conceptual issues must be addressed. How will we form our activity? What will be the responsibility of each country? How can private companies be involved? Whether it will be a consortium of companies, or will each country do its part of the work on its sovereign territory? So, these are all issues to be addressed and agreed upon because it’s not only to produce renewable sources of energy from Azerbaijani offshore and onshore fields and to build a new transmission line to our border with Georgia but also to build a cable under the Black Sea.

Therefore, we need to properly structure our plans and see who can be potential investors. And, of course, we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation with international financial institutions. I want to take this opportunity to express gratitude to the countries' governments which are our partners - Turkiye, Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, and Italy, and our new partners, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary.

Special gratitude to the European Commission for its continued support and outstanding leadership. Also, I’d like to express many thanks to the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom for their continuous support of our initiative and for providing a robust framework for broad cooperation, including investment opportunities and financing.

The companies, which are involved in this process, especially SOCAR and bp, two leading companies, already have a strategic relationship for 30 and at least 30 years to come. And also, there are leading financial institutions whose representatives are present today - World Bank, EBRD, ADB, AIB, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and IFC. So, all the leading financial institutions are with us, and we hope that we will continue our fruitful cooperation also in the areas of renewables.

Today, in Azerbaijan, together with our investors, Masdar and ACWA power, we jointly implement two investment projects of solar and wind power generation of a total of 470 megawatts. One project, which is already in the pipeline with bp, will be implemented in the liberated territories of Jabrayil district - 240 megawatts. There will be a total of 710. And if everything goes according to our plans, within one year, one year and a half, we will have this capacity, and that will save hundreds of millions of cubic meters of natural gas for export.

With respect to the plans for renewables, apart from what I already said, only with three major energy companies, we have agreed and signed MoU and agreements to produce up to 25 gigawatts of renewable energy offshore and onshore, solar and wind. Masdar 10, Fortescue 12 and ACWA power today will be a ceremony 2.5 additional to what has already been signed and being implemented. So, this is really huge potential.

Therefore, when we are talking about Black Sea cable, we need to plan it in stages and also coordinate it with demand in Europe. And, of course, to see a broad picture of our potential cooperation in the European continent. Because I'm sure that Romania and Hungary will not be the final destination for green energy.

The potential of Azerbaijan’s green energy also is available. It has already been confirmed. Only offshore wind potential is 157 gigawatts, onshore wind and solar 27, and up to 10 gigawatts of the potential of wind and solar we have in the territories we liberated more than two years ago as a result of the Patriotic War. And also, we have discovered the big potential in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, and now we are negotiating to evaluate the opportunity to build a 500-megawatt solar power station. And I think there'll be even more capacity. So, this is what we have.

Now we already have good records of achievements in gas distribution. We have signed an agreement on green energy. We should create the synergy between natural gas and renewables and look at it as a package. We have a strong political will, and also we have a success story. Because so far, all the projects we jointly implemented in different formats with different countries, whether it was the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, or Southern Gas Corridor, of them were successful.

I'm sure that our future plans to increase our presence with natural gas on the European continent and our future plans with renewables also will be successful. For that, we need to continue teamwork, and for that, we need to continue to support each other. I'm sure the next time we meet in Baku next February; we will talk about new achievements.

Thank you for your attention!