Speech of Haydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the 1st International Exhibiton on oil-gas production in the Caspian Sea in Baku - 24th May 1994.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am cordially greeting and congratulate you in regard to the opening of the the exhibition devoted to oil and gas production in the Caspian basin which is an important event in Azerbaijan. The oil industry of our country has an ancient and rich history. It is known that the industrial extraction of oil started approximately 150 years ago. Since then the effort of Azerbaijani people has gone through a great way with the help of foreign companies. More than 1 billion 300 million tons of oil and large amount of gas have been extracted. But historical period and the researches of our experts denote that there are still very large oil and gas resources in Azerbaijan. That means, a larger perspective awaits us ahead with the use of this valuable wealth of the Azerbaijan Republic. What was done during the last historical period is undoubtly our great achievement, rich experience and a good basis for future deals. I would like to dare to note that in the world experience the extraction of oil in the sea was firstly started in Azerbaijan. All the mentioned has brought oil fame to Azerbaijan and Baku and has popularised our country in the world. But now we are on a brand new stage of the use of the oil and gas fields.

First of all, that is related to that, during its century-old history Azerbaijan has gained state independence first time. The Azerbaijani have become the full-fledged owner of own underground resources and destiny. That will allow to use their own underground resources independently in accordance with Azerbaijan`s interest.

On the other hand, last decades there have been made great achievements especially in oil and gas production technics and technology in the sea fields. I should confess Azerbaijan that, in fact, firstly started work in the sea fields now lags to some extent in the world level in the mentioned area. Inspite of that, the great interest of the big oil companies of the world and especially Western countries accelerates the necessity of our collaboration. We have gone into an active cooperation with the companies considering our national interest fully and basing upon that this cooperation will help oil industry develop more successfully in Azerbaijan. Besides that, such the collaboration will conclude not only the cooperation with the oil companies but also mutually strong activity with Western countries. The steps made in the direction of cooperation with Western oil companies have both economical and political meaning. We are sure that the future collaboration of Azerbaijan and its State Oil Company with Western partners will be implemented on the basis of these principles.

You know that foreign companies were interested in the oil and gas fields of Azerbaijan about three years ago. Appropriate negotiations have been held during all this time. Of course, the way of these negotiations was not even. There were ups and downs. But anyway the negotiations were carried on and in our opinion they are going on more successfully nowadays. I said this when meeting heads of foreign oil companies. But I find it important to note today once more that while making such an important and responsible step for our country, we are based upon the main principle which are national interests of the Azerbaijan Republic and to providing benefit both for our state and for the oil companies having decided to make an investment in our economy. 

I would note with great pleasure that in this process not only the Western oil company but also heads of these states, for instance Prime Minister of Great Britain who is interested in the negotiations, Mr John Major participate. Mr John Major has expressed his thoughts in the letter sent to me and that has been reflected in the agreement about the cooperation on energy field between our countries. I underline with great pleasure Mr Tim Eggar`s, Minister of Energetics of the United Kingdom, participation in the opening of the exhibiton who has come especially to take part in today`s ceremony. 

I would like to notice that I am delighted with the more successful continuation of the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Western oil companies. In my opinion, the last stage of the negotiations held in Istanbul from 2nd to 19th May ended with good results. During the past time there were a lot of various discretions and rumours about the negotiations and the cooperation with Western countries on the field of oil industry. In fact that does not have any base. I would like to notice that as Azerbaijan and me, as the President have decided definitely our position. Our position is that, we will keep on negotiations and we hope for all that to end successfully and great commercial agreements to be signed. 

In regard to that we higly appreciate the present exhibition and the conference that is supposed to be held. The participation of 180 firms from 20 countries shows its importance. Here the oil industry of Azerbaijan have been represented maturely enough. I am hopeful that the participants of the exhibition and the audience will get acquainted with oil production, all the achievements of the big oil companies of the world in the technics and technology field of this process and meanwhile will get informed about the history of the Azerbaijan oil industry and its achievements.

I mentioned before that recent decades the oil companies of the world have gained very big experience at improving the technics and technology of the oil extraction from the sea. The demonstrable acquaintance with these achievements will be ultimately interesting for us, Azerbaijani representatives. I am simultaneously sure that the target of the exhibition is not only to demonstrate the experience but also to unify attempts to use this experience.

Azerbaijan is an oil country. In the past it was called the Land of Fire and today Azerbaijan proudly bears the same name. This name itself is related to oil and gas. In ancient times people considered burning gas as fire which was emerging from the underground. Several oilman generations raised during the exploitation of oil fields over many decades who are supposed to be the honor of our people. To be an oilman is considered to be the most honorable profession in Azerbaijan. I find it necessary to note that, in fact, in the Former Soviet Union the discovery and development of all the fields are associated with the effort and labor of the Azerbaijani scientists and oilmen. In the former Soviet Union and now in Russia there is the second, the third and the fourth Baku. These are Tataristan, Bashkiria, Orenburg and Siberia. These regions are called the second, the third and the fourth Baku for that every time the discovery and development of the fields there were held by the scientists, geologists and experts prepared in Azerbaijan.

Besides proudly talking about this history, highly appreciating several generations of the Azerbaijani oilmen I simultaneously denote that now a new stage is opening in the development of the oil industry in our country. This stage is related to an active participation of big Western oil companies in the development of oil the and gas fields in the Caspian Sea. I assure you that Azerbaijani oilmen will be your proper partners. I am hopeful that Western oil companies will always highly appreciate the achievements made through all the history of the oil and gas industry. This exhibition which has been prepared with great love and zeal widely enables that. I express my gratitude to the firm "Spearhead Exhibitions Ltd" and the Azerbaijan Republic Chamber of Commerce and Industry for their great effort made to prepare this exhibition and wish luck to the people who are going to work here on the exhibition held days to introduce maturely the opportunities to all the oil companies, to get the community of the Republic acquainted with them and for the companies to get to know each other better. I am hopeful all these will be very useful for all of us.

Finally, I cannot dismiss this point. Perhaps it is not related directly to the oil industry but it is associated with the present exhibition. The construction of this sport complex was started with my initiative 15 years ago. That time the first stone of the basement was laid by me and now I am infinitely happy for that though the construction of the complex is not complete yet, besides sport events it serves to a favorable job, such as this marvellous exhibition. I am greeting and congratulate you all once more, wish you strong health and happiness and wish best luck to this international exhibition and all the companies represented here. I am hopeful that the partnership between Azerbaijan and Western oil companies will develop more successfully. I wish you all best luck.

The "Azerbaijan" newspaper, 25th May 1994.