Azerbaijan celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the "Contract of the Century" - an agreement that opened the way for the country's increased prosperity as an energy produc er and supplier. The Contract of the Century was signed in Baku in 1994 by the then President Heidar Aliev and representatives of seven other countries and thirteen international companies. The first oil was extracted in 1997. The contract eventually led to the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline (BTC) and to a number of other ancillary projects.
A ceremony to mark the occasion was held in Baku yesterday. Azerbaijan's current President, Ilham Aliev, welcomed a number of Presidents, Prime Ministers and other senior officials from partner countries. In his speech President Aliev spoke about Azerbaijan's past achievements and future plans. He said the Contract of the Century was implemented successfully for twenty years and gave back huge profits.
"BTC has united the Caspian Sea and Mediterranean Sea, this is a historical achievement. The construction of the Trans Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) was agreed in 2012. Moreover, the choice of TANAP's route is also a historical event. Agreements on gas export were signed last year. Today all horizons are open before us. We must together ensure the construction of the Southern Gas Corridor", President Aliyev said.
The president said this project would bring additional dividends to Azerbaijan's economy, adding that in recent years the budget expenditures of Azerbaijan increased by 20 times and the unemployment rate fell below 5 percent. Azerbaijan ranks 38th place for economic competitiveness.
"Azerbaijan is a major shareholder in TANAP and will assume the financial responsability for it. Azerbaijan itself finances its share in the projects of Shah Deniz, TANAP and TAP. There will be no losers following the implementation of this project. This project will play a key role in Europe's energy supply. Azerbaijan plays an important role in ensuring Europe's energy security and this role will only grow in the future", the President noted.
President Aliyev noted that the proven gas reserves in Azerbaijan are 2.5 trillion cubic meters, undiscovered - 4 trillion cubic meters.
"Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey have participated in oil-gas projects up to now. We are going to enhance our cooperation from today. Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Montenegro and other countries can join this project in the future. A new international team is being created in oil-gas field. I'm confident that our team will be successful", he said.
The President, accompanied by the foreign guests, later attended a ground breaking ceremony for the new Southern Gas Corridor - a project that will contribute toward European energy security and which is also expected to give a further economic boost to the region.
source: commonspace.eu with APA News Agency.
photo: President Ilham Aliev puts his signature on the first part of the new Southern Gas Corridor pipeline in Baku on 20 September 2014. (Picture courtesy of the Press Office of the President of Azerbaijan.