Caspian Weekly Roundup
Shah Deniz Celebrates 100 Billion Cubic Meters of Total Gas Production
Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz celebrates 100 billion cubic meters of total gas production, Trend reports citing BP. “The milestone was achieved at the end of December, exactly 12 years after we first announced the start-up of commercial gas production from the field and start-up of operations of the South Caucasus Pipeline,” said a message from BP. The first production from the field announced on 15 December 2006 marked the start of Stage 1 of the field development and since then gas has been successfully and reliably delivered to markets in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey said the company. “2018 was destined to become the next biggest milestone year for Shah Deniz. It marked the commencement of commercial gas deliveries to Turkey from Shah Deniz 2 as planned on 30 June and the achievement of first gas production from Shah Deniz Bravo at the end of July. Total condensate production from Shah Deniz since 2006 is over 196 million barrels. Today production is received from about 10 SDA and 6 SDB wells.”
ADB Approves Grant to Support Increased Cross-Border Energy Trading in Central Asia
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $4.5 million cluster regional technical assistance grant to support an increase in regional power trade in Central Asia Power System (CAPS) and explore potential reconnection of Turkmenistan to CAPS and its further expansion to Afghanistan, Trend reports citing the ADB website. “With increased regional power trade, countries will be able to meet local demand for power and supply surpluses to their neighbors,” said Director of Energy Division at ADB’s Central and West Asia Department Ashok Bhargava. He added that this will improve regional energy security. Power trade among Central Asian countries has declined dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. First, in 2003, Turkmenistan disconnected from CAPS and then in 2009, Tajikistan did the same. As a result, compared to 25,413 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) traded in CAPS in 1990, the traded energy volume declined to 2,080 million kWh in 2016.
Kazatomprom’s Net Profit Increases Four Times
Currently, Kazakhstan’s Kazatomprom JSC develops 14 of 56 explored deposits with balance reserves of uranium, the company told Trend on Tuesday. Today the company, which is the world’s largest producer of natural uranium, is engaged in mining in the Turkistan, Kyzylorda and Akmola regions of Kazakhstan. “All uranium products of Kazatomprom are exported. Over the past months of this year, the products were exported to China, India, France, Belgium, Sweden, Ukraine, Brazil and the US,” the company said. İt should be noted that the consolidated net profit of Kazatomprom for the first half of 2018 amounted to 115.02 billion tenge, which is almost 4 times more than in the same period last year (30.17 billion tenges).
Indian Companies Look to Get Into More Oil, Gas Projects in Azerbaijan
Indian oil companies are looking forward to expanding their business with partners in Azerbaijan’s oil and gas sector, Sanjay Rana, the Indian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, told Trend. He reminded that an Indian multinational oil and gas company Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has shared in Azerbaijan’s Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) oil and gas project (2.31 percent). “India has a very good potential in this sector. Our companies are looking forward to participating in the development of other oil and gas fields of Azerbaijan,” the ambassador said.
SOCAR Eyes to Increase Investments in Turkey
The value of investments of Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR in Turkey will reach $19.5 billion, director general of the STAR oil refinery of SOCAR, Mesut Ilter, told the Turkish media Jan. 5, Trend reports. Speaking about current projects, Ilter noted that the STAR refinery (one of SOCAR’s assets in Turkey) intends to reach full capacity by the end of 2019. SOCAR is represented in Turkey by its subsidiary company, SOCAR Turkey Enerji, which is one of the largest industrial companies in the country with 5,000 employees and $3 billion of export potential.
Kazakh Government, KPO to Sign Agreement on Karachaganak Project Soon
The agreement on the settlement of the dispute on the calculation of oil revenues between the government of Kazakhstan and the Karachaganak Petroleum Operating consortium (KPO) will be signed in January, Trend reports citing Interfax-Kazakhstan. “We will probably sign the agreement in January. We worked hard on the text of the agreement in December. Almost all issues are agreed upon,” Kazakh Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said. He noted that the Settlement Agreement will come into force on July 1. “After this, KPO will pay us the first part of the compensation, $400 million,” the minister said.
Turkey to Host Afghanistan, Pakistan for Taliban Peace Talks
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will host the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of efforts to end the Afghan Taliban’s 17-year insurgency. Erdogan, speaking at a joint news conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on January 4, said the trilateral meeting would take place in Istanbul after local elections in March. Khan told reporters he hoped the meeting would bring “badly needed peace” to Afghanistan. “Pakistan is already helping dialogue between Taliban and [the] Americans,” said Khan, who was making his first visit to Turkey since he came to power in August. “I look forward to the summit meeting in Istanbul, where we hope that Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey will be able to help in this peace process.”
Turkmenistan to Hold Additional Parliamentary Elections
Turkmenistan on March 31 will hold election of MPs to the vacant parliament seats, Trend reports referring to the Turkmen government Jan. 7. The document was signed in accordance with Articles 4 and 85 of the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan. In line with the Constitution, the parliament adopts laws, makes changes and additions to the basic law, approves the state budget; resolves issues of holding national referendums; appoints elections of the president, members of the Parliament, members of representative bodies; considers issues of appointment and dismissal of the Chairman of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Justice based on the proposal of the head of state; ratifies and denounces international treaties; and solves the issues of changing the state border and administrative-territorial division of the country.
Iran, Russia Planning Joint Naval Exercises in the Caspian Sea
Russia and Iran are planning joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea “in the near future,” an Iranian naval official has said. Iran’s Mehr news agency quoted Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi on January 6 as saying that the two countries are planning “tactical, rescue, and anti-piracy war games.” Iran and Russia conducted naval drills in the Caspian Sea in 2015 and 2017. Khanzadi also said “all countries around the Caspian” oppose any military presence in the area by any non-littoral countries.
Russian Peacekeeping Forces to Participate in Three Exercises in Tajikistan This Year
The purpose of the exercises that will take place in the Central Military District in 2019 is to “master possibilities of operational redeployment of units at long distances in order to conduct peacekeeping operations”. The peacekeeping brigade is the only peacekeeping unit in the Land Forces of the Russian Federation and includes contract servicemen, latest weapons, and military equipment.
U.S. Senate Confirms New Ambassadors to Azerbaijan and Armenia
The U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of Earle D. Litzenberger to the post of Ambassador of America to the Republic of Azerbaijan and of Lynne Tracy to the post of Ambassador to Armenia. Ambassador Litzenberger is a career foreign service member who has worked previously in Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, Belgium, and Afghanistan. Ambassador Tracy also spent her career in the foreign service and has served in Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan.
Kazakhstan Approves Caspian Sea Bill
Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament, the Majlis approved a bill ratifying the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. All five Caspian littoral states signed the agreement codifying access to the sea’s waters and natural resources last year. Turkmenistan ratified the convention in December.
Kazakhstan Opens Doors to New Foreign Investment
On 26 December, Nazarbayev reorganized three ministries and appointed new ministers through a string of presidential decrees. The President significantly strengthened the economic diplomacy credentials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by giving it oversight over the work on attracting foreign investment and promoting Kazakh exports abroad, taking away these responsibilities from the reformed Ministry for Investment and Development. He appointed Beibut Atamkulov as Minister of Foreign Affairs and relieved former Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov of his responsibilities due to his transfer to another job, as yet unannounced. Atamkulov, an engineer by training, has worked in the private sector and in government institutions, having served as a career diplomat from 2006. EURACTIV spoke to deputy foreign minister Roman Vassilenko, who said the re-shuffle of the foreign ministry was aimed at working in a much more focused way on attracting foreign investment and promoting Kazakh exports abroad.
Uzbekistan Plans to Build New High-Speed Railway to Samarkand
Uzbekistan Railways is considering the possibility of building another high-speed railway to Samarkand, Trend reports citing Uzbek media. “Recently, the company’s management raised the issue of building a dedicated electrified line from Tashkent to Samarkand, which will be run only by Afrosiyob train. This will shorten the journey to about 1 hour and 20 minutes,” said the message. It should be noted that today a high-speed train runs the 333 kilometers between the cities in 2 hours and 8 minutes. The movement of high-speed trains on the Tashkent–Samarkand line was launched in September 2011.
Iran Negotiates with Three Neighboring Countries for Preferential Trade
The head of Iranian Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) has announced talks with Turkey, Syria, and Pakistan for preferential trade. “Establishment of the banking relations are among Iran`s priorities. If the obstacles are not eliminated, the preferential tariffs and trade will be of value,” the head of the Iranian Trade Promotion Organization, Mohammad Reza Modoudi said, Trend reports citing IRNA. In this regard, Modoudi announced the promise of the president of Turkey to resolve the existing issues and said that the bartering is another program of the TPO in negotiations with other countries, especially its neighbors. He stressed that 13 percent growth in non-oil exports in the country was recorded during the eight months of this year (started on March 21, 2018) worth $31.5 billion. The country will make efforts to maintain this growth by the end of the year, added Modoudi.
Turkey Exports Defense Industry Goods Worth Over $250M
Exports of Turkish defense industry goods grew 24.9 percent in December last year compared to the same month of 2017 and amounted to $253.5 million, Trend reports with reference to the Turkish Exporters Assembly. The exports of defense products amounted to $2.35 billion in 2018, according to the report. Most defense products were exported to the US, Germany, Oman, and Qatar, the report said. “The exports of defense products to the US increased by 5 percent compared with the results of 2017 and amounted to $726.6 million,” the report noted.
Azerbaijan’s Satellite Service Exports Reach $22M
The revenues of Azerbaijan’s Azercosmos OJSC from the export of satellite and telecommunication services in November 2018 amounted to $1.6 million, Trend reports referring to the Export Review, published by the Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communications. According to the Center, the revenues received by Azercosmos from the export of services reached 88 percent of its total revenues. The total revenues received by Azercosmos from the export of satellite and telecommunication services in January-November 2018 reached $24 million.
Russia, Turkmenistan to Launch Ferry Service in the Caspian Sea
A ferry service, which will connect Russia’s Makhachkala city with the Turkmen port of Turkmenbashi, will be launched in the Caspian Sea in 2019, Trend reports referring to the Russian media. “This is a regional-scale project,” Alexander Elizarov, Russian trade representative in Turkmenistan, told reporters. “First of all, one or two ferries are planned to be used,” he said. “In the future, after the effective cargo traffic is confirmed, it is possible to talk about building at least three-four more vessels,” he said. Makhachkala will become a transit point. A transport corridor to the Black Sea will be built from Makhachkala. According to the plans, up to eight million tons of cargo will be transported through the Makhachkala – Turkmenbashi corridor per year in the medium term.
(Sources: AzerNews, Euractiv, New Europe, News.az, PanArmenian Net, RFE/RL, Russian Ministry of Defense, Trend News Agency, and the Washington Post.)