Caspian Weekly Roundup
Dragon Oil Eyes to Increase Oil Production in Turkmenistan
An Emirati company, Dragon Oil, which works in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea, extracts 90,000 barrels of oil per day and plans to hit 100,000 barrels by 2019 or 2020, General Manager of Dragon Oil Mohammed Abdullah Al-Raisi told the Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper. Al-Raisi noted that the company has been operating in the Khazar sector, and since 2000 has been active in the manufacturing sector and productively cooperates with the Turkmen state company Turkmenneft. The company operates under the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) for the development of the oil-bearing sections of the Jeitun (Lam) and Jigalybek (Zhdanov) fields, signed in 1999. The company’s shares are listed on the London and Dublin exchanges (stock exchange ticker: DGO), the company’s main shareholder is Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC).
Uzbekistan Plans to Attract More Investments for SPPs Construction
Uzbekistan plans to attract over $ 1 billion in the form of private investment to construct solar power plants (SPPs), Uzbek media reported. A conference for potential investors on the construction of the first solar power plant in the format of a public-private partnership (PPP) was held in Tashkent. Representatives of 22 major energy companies and international financial organizations arrived in Uzbekistan to participate in it. The first pilot power plant under PPP conditions with a capacity of up to 100 MW is planned to be built in the Navoi region. This is only the first phase of the initiative to bring the total capacity of photovoltaic plants to 1,000 MW.
BP, Azerbaijani Energy Ministry to Sign Memorandum on Renewable Energy by Year-End
The long-term energy cooperation with BP has opened its track to the alternative energy sector as well as oil and gas. Memorandum of Understanding between BP and Energy Ministry will be signed by the end of the year, Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli, BP Azerbaijan’s Vice President for Communications, External Affairs, Strategy, told AZERTAC. He also noted that a joint working group will be established for cooperation in the development of renewable energy sources. Recently, Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov and BP’s Regional President Gary Jones discussed cooperation opportunities in renewable energy sources and proposed to sign a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding. Minister Parviz Shahbazov said that long-term and efficient cooperation with BP in oil and gas field would be useful in the alternative energy sector, noting BP’s role in the transition to alternative energy sources.
Gazprombank’s Subsidiary to Upgrade Shurtan GCC in Uzbekistan
Enter Engineering Pte Ltd., a subsidiary of Gazprombank, and Uzbekneftegaz signed an EPC contract (design, equipment purchase, and construction) to expand the capacity of the Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex (GCC), the Uzbek media reported citing Deputy Chairman of Uzbekneftegaz Odil Temirov. It is planned to commission additional capacity for the production of 280,000 tons of polyethylene and 100,000 tons of polypropylene by 2021. The project will use technologies licensed by CB&I Lummus and Chevron. According to Temirov, Enter Engineering is developing a detailed project and considering the project financing. The project envisages the processing of valuable raw materials – synthetic naphtha from the GTL (gas-to-liquids) plant under construction nearby – and the development of new types of polyethylene and polypropylene.
BP Eyes to Drill 2 Exploration Wells in Shallow Waters around Absheron Peninsula
BP plans to drill two exploration wells in shallow waters around Absheron Peninsula in 2019, Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli, BP vice president for Communications, External Affairs and Strategy in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, told Trend Nov. 30. He said that one of these wells is located in the Garabaddag area, where the sea depth is only 2-5 meters, which creates difficulties for drilling. “Therefore, an area of approximately 160X48 meters will be dried for drilling,” he said. The production sharing agreement (PSA) between Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR and BP for geological exploration and development of promising structures in shallow waters around Azerbaijan’s Absheron Peninsula was signed December 22, 2014.
Kazakhstan Expands Gas Exports to China
Kazakhstan took a big step toward expanding its gas exports to China when the country’s largest gas supply company, KazTransGas, and the state-owned KazMunayGas unveiled three new high-tech compressing stations to increase the capacity of the Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline earlier this week. “The launch of these stations has completed a large-scale work on the formation of the trans-Asian ‘Central Asia–China’ gas pipeline, which unites four states – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and China. So, this event is important not only for Kazakhstan but for all regional states,” reads a statement that was released by KazTransGas on Wednesday. The Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline has become the largest gas transportation project for Kazakhstan. The length of each of the three segments measures 1,310 kilometers. The pipeline is an integral part to a project that links Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China through a pipeline measuring a total length of over 7,500 kilometers.
President Ilham Aliyev Received Delegation of U.S. Department of Defense
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of the United States Laura Cooper. The head of state hailed the successful development of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and the U.S. in a variety of areas. President Ilham Aliyev pointed out the role of reciprocal visits, including the U.S. President’s National Security Adviser John Bolton’s and other officials’ trips to Azerbaijan in developing bilateral relations between the two countries. Describing cooperation in the field of defense as satisfactory, the head of state noted that the issues relating to energy security are of vital importance in developing bilateral relations. President Ilham Aliyev hailed the U.S. government’s and personally the U.S. President’s support for the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project in this regard. The President also noted the significance of the U.S. President`s letters on the Republic Day and on the issues relating to energy cooperation. Praising the development of bilateral ties within the NATO, the head of state described his recent successful visit to NATO headquarters as a good sign of cooperation with this organization. President Ilham Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan’s involvement in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and the country’s increasing the number of its servicemen in the Resolute Support mission testify to Azerbaijan’s contribution to the overall peacebuilding efforts in this country.
Azerbaijan to Send Peacekeepers to South Sudan
Azerbaijan’s Parliament adopted a resolution to send four staff officers and military observers to South Sudan to join the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The deployment will depart in January to be stationed at UNMISS’s headquarters in Juba, South Sudan. UNMISS was established in 2011. The Azeri servicemen will join troops from Belarus, India, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and others.
OSCE to Monitor Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact
The OSCE will send a monitoring mission to observe the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact in the Martuni region on Tuesday. Three representatives from the office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office will visit the area.
Turkmenistan’s Parliament Ratifies Caspian Convention
The Turkmen government announced on December 3rd that its Parliament ratified the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. The body also signed draft resolutions on ratifying the Agreement on the Prevention of Incidents in the Caspian Sea, the Agreement between the Governments of the Caspian States on Trade and Economic Cooperation, and the Agreement between the Governments of the Caspian States on Cooperation in the Field of Transport.
11th Round of Talks on Syria Held in Astana
Kazakhstan hosted Russia, Turkey, and Iran from November 28th-29th for the 11th round of talks on Syria. Outgoing United Nations envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura attended as an observer. The goal of this round of talks was to create a UN constitutional committee, but the three nations could not come to an agreement, prompting Mistura to label the meeting a “missed opportunity.” The parties did come together to condemn the use of chemical weapons and agreed to meet again in February.
Salome Zurabishvili Wins Georgian Presidential Elections
Georgia’s former Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili beat opponent Grigol Vashadze in a runoff election for Georgia’s presidency. Zurabishvili, the first woman to hold Georgia’s presidency, won with 59% of the vote.
Iran’s Damavand Destroyer to Return to Service
Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced on December 1st that the Damavand destroyer, which crashed into a jetty in January, would be repaired and returned to service within eighteen months. The 1300 ton, the 100-meter-long destroyer was one of the largest ships in Iran’s navy before it a severe storm on the Caspian caused it to crash in January, killing two of the sailors on board.
Turkmenistan Eyes to Open Trade House in Azerbaijan
Turkmenistan intends to open a trade house in Azerbaijan, First Secretary-Consul of the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Azerbaijan Batyr Rejepov said at a meeting with Deputy Secretary General of the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organizations of Azerbaijan Fuad Humbatov, the Confederation said in a message Dec. 3. He noted that the trade house, which is planned to be opened, provides for the sale of a different assortment of textile products and hand-woven carpets produced in Turkmenistan. Rejepov asked for support of the Confederation in attracting partners for cooperation in the relevant areas, legal registration and finding a suitable place for the house. Humbatov noted that the Confederation will provide the appropriate support regarding the opening of the trade house.
Tax Amendments in Azerbaijan Consider Interests of Business Sector — Ministry
Amendments to the tax legislation in Azerbaijan, which will come into force Jan. 1, 2019, consider the interests of the business sector and have been developed in accordance with the strategic roadmaps, Samira Musayeva, director general of the Tax Policy Department of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Taxes, said at a briefing Dec. 3. She noted that the amendments are aimed at the implementation of the tasks set before the ministry in the strategic roadmaps. In the process of their development, meetings with entrepreneurs were held and international trends were studied, she said. Musayeva noted that the amendments can be divided into five areas: ensuring transparency of taxation, expanding the taxable base, improving tax administration, supporting the development of entrepreneurship, increasing the economic efficiency of benefits and exemptions.
Turkmenistan Approves Digital Economy Development Concept
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has approved the Digital Economy Development Concept in the country for 2019-2025, the Turkmenistan State News Agency reported. It is planned to implement the concept aimed at the growth of business and investment activity, the introduction of advanced methods of public administration and the creation of new jobs in three stages. In accordance with the presidential decree, ministries, sectoral departments, regional and city administration, companies, institutions and organizations regardless of ownership types, as well as private entrepreneurs were instructed to ensure the implementation of the aforementioned concept.
Azerbaijan’s Share in German Trade with S. Caucasus Countries up to 80 Percent
Azerbaijan’s share in Germany’s trade with the South Caucasus countries accounted for more than 70 percent, and during the first nine months of this year, it rose to 80 percent, Azerbaijani Deputy Economy Minister Rufat Mammadov said. He was speaking as part of the first German-Azerbaijani Business Dialogue in Berlin, Azerbaijan’s Economy Ministry said in a message. Mammadov said that over 200 companies with German capital are registered in Azerbaijan, and Germany invested $560 million in Azerbaijan, 96 percent of which accounted for the non-oil sector. He reminded that Azerbaijan successfully cooperates with the German organization “GIZ”, the KfW Development Bank.
Russia to Implement Two Projects for $1.8M in Uzbekistan, More May Come
Russia is implementing two grant projects in Uzbekistan – “Improving adaptation and increasing the sustainability of agriculture in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan to the risks caused by climate change” with a total budget of $800,000 and “Promoting youth employment in Uzbekistan” for $1 million, Uzbek media reported. The new projects were approved during the meeting of the Russia – United Nations Development Program Trust Fund Steering Committee on Nov. 19 in Moscow. The launch of projects, each of which is designed for a two-year period, is planned with the participation of interested Uzbek agencies and the UNDP office in Tashkent early next year.
Turkmenistan, EBRD Mulling Co-Operation Strategy
A meeting with Regional Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for Central Asia Neil McKain was held in Turkmenistan, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry said in a message. According to the message, the sides reviewed the draft strategy for Turkmenistan for 2019-2024 proposed by EBRD. Moreover, the representatives of the delegations exchanged views on the issues and regional cooperation between Turkmenistan and EBRD, the message said.
Ambassador: Hungary Interested in Connecting to BTK
Hungary is interested in connecting to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, Hungarian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Viktor Szederkenyi told Trend. For Hungary, every infrastructural project is important, which connects Europe and Asia, said the envoy, adding that in this regard, the country attaches great importance to Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. “We consider that the BTK is a global, open project, and of course Hungarian side is interested in participating and connecting to it, because this railway line will shorten the transportation distance and time to and from Asia. This issue is regularly on the agenda of our political meetings,” said Szederkenyi. Further, the diplomat pointed out that the Alat Sea Trade Port project is examined by the Hungarian side, as well as the operating conditions of the free trade zone established in the port.
Kazakhstan’s Transit Traffic Via TITR Surges
In January-October 2018, Kazakhstan’s container transit traffic through the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) increased by 17.5 times to 2,800 TEU, compared to 160 TEU last year, First Vice Minister of Investment and Development of Kazakhstan Roman Sklyar told Trend. “For the 10 months, export rail transportation through TITR amounted to 537,400 tons, and import rail transportation – to 254,600 tons,” he said. Sklyar also noted that oil products, grain, metals, coal, and chemicals constitute the main freight transported by Kazakhstan via TITR. “In order to develop the transit and export potential of the country, a network of effective transit transcontinental corridors and routes through Kazakhstan, such as the Northern Trans-Asian Railway, route from China to Central Asia and the Persian Gulf countries, North-South Corridor and TITR, was formed and is being implemented,” the first vice minister added.
Burian: Nearest Aspirations in the Relations of Kyrgyzstan with EU is Increasing Trade Turnover to 1B Euros
The European Union is ready to continue work in supporting Kyrgyzstan in using the opportunities of the GSP+ status, EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian told at a meeting with journalists, kabar.kg reports. Discussion of actions and plans concerning this issue, as he said, took place at a meeting with Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Chingiz Aidarbekov, and further the dialogue will continue with Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziyev. Burian said that the process of using this system involves a process of raising product standards. He added that the Union intends to help in this regard through its programs so that standards, especially those of agricultural products, will be raised and meet the standards that can open access to its market.
(Sources: Al Jazeera, AzerNews, Azertag, Caspian News, Eurasianet, New York Times, News Armenia, RFE/RL, Tasnim News Agency, and Trend News Agency.)