Caspian Weekly Roundup
U.S. Secretary of Energy to Meet with Russian Energy Minister in Moscow
U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry will meet with Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak in Moscow on September 13. The two energy chiefs will discuss Nord Stream 2, the Russian pipeline that will carry Russian gas to Germany via a pipeline under the Baltic Sea, bypassing existing pipelines in Ukraine. The U.S., Poland, the Baltic States, and several European Union members, have been critical of this project, expressing concern over energy security for Europe. However, both Russian President Putin and German Chancellor Merkel have defended Nord Stream 2, insisting the project will ensure energy supply for increasing demand in Europe.
Uzbekistan Opens New Plant for Production of Composite Gas Cylinders
Uzbekistan launched a new plant UNG ECONN to produce composite gas cylinders for liquefied gas, according to Uzbekneftegaz press service. The joint venture was founded by Neftegazinvest LLC, Uzbekneftegaz JSC affiliate, and Hyundai International Co Ltd, Republic of Korea, all with equal shares. The total cost of the project is USD$5.3 million. The first stage will produce approximately 60,000 ECONN 20 composite cylinders per year. During the second phase, this indicator is expected to grow at least twice. The ECONN 20 composite cylinders are used in gas stoves, gas burners for cooking, gas heaters, and for installation as a power source for a gas burner for roofing work.
Turkmenistan, Belarus Discuss Cooperation in Petrochemical Industry
Chairman of the Belarusian State Oil and Chemistry Concern Andrei Rybakov led a delegation on a visit to Turkmenistan to discuss a wide range of issues, including cooperation in the petrochemical and mining-chemical industries. Negotiations were held with Chairman of the “Turkmenkhimiya” State Concern Nyyazly Nyyazlyev regarding cooperation. The Belarus delegation participated in the international exhibition entitled as “The main trends of development of the energy industry of Turkmenistan” held at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the country. Agreements on the expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries were reached during the negotiations, according to a statement from the Embassy of Belarus in Ashgabat.
Azerbaijan Fulfills Obligations Under OPEC+ Deal for August
Azerbaijan presented data on its daily oil production in August 2018 to the OPEC Joint Technical Committee as part of the Vienna Agreement, the Azerbaijani Energy Ministry reported on September 10. Daily production amounted to 774,000 barrels in August 2018. 716,000 barrels were crude oil, 58,000 barrels were condensate, and 19,000 barrels were exported. In December 2016, Azerbaijan, along with 10 non-OPEC member states agreed to cut oil production by a total of 558,000 barrels per day. The agreement was concluded for the first half of 2017 and was extended until the end of the first quarter of 2018. At the last OPEC meeting, the agreement was extended once more until the end of 2018. Azerbaijan supported the decision.
Turkmenistan to Increase Electricity Exports to Afghanistan, Pakistan
Turkmenistan has refurbished a Soviet-era power plant in hopes of increasing electricity exports to Afghanistan and Pakistan. On September 8, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov attended a ceremony for the opening of the electricity plant near southeastern region of Mary. The $1.2 billion plant’s increased capacities will allow Turkmenistan to increase its exports to neighboring countries by 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year. Turkish firm Calik Holding and General Electric of the U.S. were responsible for the expansion work. This is part of Turkmenistan’s efforts to diversify its economy, which strongly relies on natural gas exports. After disputes with Iran and Russia, Turkmenistan depends solely on China as an export market. However, Turkmenistan and Russia are expected to resume gas negotiations in the near future.
Trump Names Candidate for U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Earle D. Litzenberger of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Azerbaijan, said the message posted on the website of the White House. Mr. Litzenberger, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State. During his career in the Foreign Service, Mr. Litzenberger served as Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund; Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Mission to NATO; NATO Deputy Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan; Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia; and Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Mr. Litzenberger earned a B.A. from Middlebury College and M.S. from the United States Army War College. He is the recipient of the Matilda W. Sinclaire Language Award. He also speaks French, Russian, Serbian, and Bulgarian.
Abkhazia PM Dies in Car Accident
Gennady Gagulia, Prime Minister of the Russia-backed separatist Georgian region of Abkhazia, died in a car accident on September 8th. The 70-year-old official was traveling with a delegation returning from Syria, which agreed to recognize Abkhazia as an independent country in May. Abkhazia’s President Raul Khajimba was traveling in the same motorcade but walked away unscathed.
Turkmenistan Stopping Iranian Trucks Bound for Tajikistan
Iranian trucks shipping cargo to Tajikistan are being stopped at Turkmenistan’s Lyuftabad-Artyk and Sarakhs border checkpoints. Approximately 100 trucks have been prevented from entering Turkmenistan for about a week. According to the truck drivers, trucks bound for Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and other countries are crossing the border without problems; only trucks headed to Tajikistan are being detained.
Moscow Is Ready to Develop Relations with Tokyo
Russia President Vladimir Putin expressed Moscow’s preparedness to develop further relations with Tokyo “on the basis of the principles of good neighborly relations, mutual respect, and reckoning with each other’s interests.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin held a meeting on Monday, September 10th, where the two leaders discussed key aspects of bilateral relations. The focus of the talks was on the expansion of trade, and economic and investment cooperation. Putin also emphasized that bilateral trade grew by 14% in 2017 and by another 20% this year. The Japanese and Tokyo leaders discussed their cooperation on resolving the Korean Peninsula issue. According to Putin, Moscow intends to make the necessary efforts to facilitate inter-Korean dialogue and settle the on-going political and diplomatic issues.
Russian War Games Start This Week
The active phase of the much-anticipated Vostok-18 Russian military exercise will begin on September 11th and last until the 17th. Exercises involving about 300,000 Russian personnel, 1,000 aircraft, 80 combat ships, and 36,000 armored vehicles will be held across five ground testing areas and four aerial testing areas in what Russian officials say will be the largest exercise since the Cold War. Chinese and Mongolian troops will also participate in parts of the drill, their first appearance in a Vostok exercise. NATO has criticized the exercise, but the Russian military claims there is no “anti-NATO bias” involved in their drills.
Azerbaijan Announces Priority Spheres for U.S. Investments
The USA has invested more than $13 billion in Azerbaijan’s economy, of which more than $1 billion has been invested in the country’s non-oil sector, the Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Shahin Mustafayev said Sept. 8 at the meeting with Brian McFeeters, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated $350 million for the implementation of a number of projects in Azerbaijan. “Currently, 240 American companies operate in the sphere of industry, construction, communications, banking sector and other areas of Azerbaijani economy. The US is one of the main foreign trade partners of Azerbaijan. The trade turnover between the countries for January-June 2018 amounted to $476.1 million,” Shahin Mustafayev said.
TRACECA, CAREC Agree to Cooperate
Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission TRACECA and Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Institute have agreed on cooperation. The parties signed a memorandum of understanding Sept. 10 in Baku. Secretary-General of the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission TRACECA Mircea Ciopraga and Director of the CAREC Institute Bayaraa Sanjaasuren signed the document. “Transportation networks in many TRACECA and CAREC countries are in need of modernization. The improvement of transportation systems requires significant financial resources that are not met by government funds. In this regard, TRACECA and CAREC will work closely with international financial institutions and facilitate private sector participation in financing and management of transport projects,” Ciopraga noted.
Chinese Businessmen Invited to Participate in “Digital Kazakhstan” Program
Chinese businessmen are invited to participate in the program entitled “Digital Kazakhstan,” Kazakh Minister for Investments and Development Zhenis Kassymbek said. Kasymbekov made the remarks at the Kazakh-Chinese business forum, the Kazakh media outlets reported. “We focus on the implementation of elements of the fourth industrial revolution – 3D printing, online trading, mobile banking, digital services, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and the exchange of big data,” he added. “The country already has innovative clusters such as “Nazarbayev University” and “Park of Innovative Technologies.” The new International Technopark of IT start-ups will be opened. Therefore, we invite our Chinese colleagues to take an active part in the implementation of the ‘Digital Kazakhstan’ program.”
World Bank Pleased with Level of Co-Op with Azerbaijan
The World Bank (WB) is very happy with the level of cooperation with the Azerbaijani Government, Head of the WB Baku Office Naveed Hassan Naqvi said in an interview with Trend. “As you know we have been active in Azerbaijan for over 25 years now,” he said. “Over this period we have implemented 50 plus projects worth over $3 billion. In addition to these investment projects we have prepared analytical reports, provided technical assistance in a whole range of sectors. We have been active across the whole range of activities from restoring the Shaki Khan Palace, other historical monuments, to big infrastructure projects.”
(Sources: Azer News, Business Insider, Caspian Policy Center, EU Observer, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, News.Az, Tasnim News Agency, TASS, Tehran Times, Trend News Agency, and Uzbekneftegaz.)