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caspian weekly roundup

Caspian Weekly Roundup

Author:Caspian Policy Center

Dec 18, 2018

Energy

Kazakhstan Inks New Energy Deal Kazakhstan is partnering with multinational oil and gas companies to create what officials consider strategic reserves of hydrocarbons, as a deal was signed last week for geological exploration of the Kalamkas-Sea deposit in the Caspian basin.  As part of the agreement, the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC), including energy giants such as Eni, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, CNPC, Inpex, and Kazakhstan’s state-owned KazMunayGas, will design a field development plan by late 2019. The consortium plans to launch oil production in 2022.  “The signing of the agreement opens up new opportunities to increase investment in the development of offshore fields in the Kazakh segment of the Caspian Sea,” read a statement by Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry. Gas Production at Iranian South Pars Gas Field to Increase Production at the Iranian gas field South Pars, located in the Persian Gulf, is planned to be increased by 56 million cubic meters per day by the end of March 2019.  "Gas production at South Pars will reach 630 million cubic meters per day," said Mohammad Meshkinfam, managing director of the South Pars oil and gas company, Iranian media reported.  He noted that this would be a new record in Iran’s gas production from this offshore gas field, which Iran shares with Qatar.  "With the coming of the winter and the need to ensure stable and uninterrupted gas supplies to the country, the development of new gas fields is accelerating," Meshkinfam added.  He reiterated that the two offshore platforms belonging to the 14th phase of the field will soon be put into operation, each of which will add 28 million cubic meters of gas per day. TAP, DESFA Ink Agreement for Maintenance TAP’s Greek Section The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) AG and the Greek National Natural Gas System Operator (DESFA) SA have signed an agreement on the maintenance of Greek section of the TAP pipeline, Trend reports citing TAP AG consortium.  The agreement was ratified by the competent Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) on December 12, 2018, according to a message on the consortium’s website.  According to the agreement, DESFA will be responsible for the maintenance of TAP facilities along the 550km of the Greek section of the pipeline, extending from Kipoi in Evros close to the Greek-Turkish border to Ieropigi, Kastoria, on Greece’s border with Albania.  The maintenance agreement covers a period of five years, following the beginning of TAP’s commercial operation in 2020, while the contract also includes pre-operational support. Turkish Stream, TAP, not Competitors, says Russia Russian initiated Turkish Stream project and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which envisages transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe are not competitors, said Denis Manturov, Russian Industry, and Trade Minister.  Turkish Stream and TAP are not competitors: the two infrastructures, which cross different countries, can in some ways be called complementary, Italian La Stampa newspaper quoted Manturov as saying.  At the same time, it is incorrect to state that the Turkish Stream is an alternative to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, according to the Russian minister.  He noted that TAP can transport not only Azerbaijani but also Russian gas.  Earlier, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also said that TAP may be filled with Russian gas as well. Russian Oil Equipment Manufacturer Plans to Set up Joint Venture in Azerbaijan Russian company INTES plans to set up a joint venture in Azerbaijan on the production of oil equipment, the general director of the company, Yuri Bogachuk, told Trend.  "We have plans on the creation of joint production of our equipment and services from the name of our joint company with Azerbaijan. This will be an innovative production," he said.  Bogachuk noted that a control station based on the patent and developments of INTES will be produced in Azerbaijan.  In the future, it is planned to improve the export of the produced equipment, he said.  "Production of the equipment will be adjusted in a very short time. It is necessary to organize the production and hire local specialists and teach them to work with new equipment," he said. BP Announces Plans on Drilling New Wells in Azerbaijan for 2019 BP plans to drill four new wells at Azerbaijan’s oil and gas fields in 2019, BP Azerbaijan Vice President Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli told Trend.  In particular, he noted that two exploration wells will be drilled in the shallow waters around the Absheron Peninsula [SWAP project], one well at the Shafag-Asiman block of fields and one well at the onshore Gobustan field.  He added that depending on the results of this drilling, future plans will be made up.  As for the production plans, it is envisaged to maintain production at the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) and Shah Deniz, Azerbaijan’s biggest fields, at the same level as this year [average daily production at ACG amounted to 588,000 barrels of oil and 48 million cubic meters of gas at Shah Deniz], Aslanbayli said.

Security

New Constitution of Georgia Comes into Play as the Presidential Inauguration is Over The new constitution of Georgia, which was adopted in 2017, has automatically come into play after yesterday’s presidential inauguration, Trend reports referring to Agenda.ge. The new constitution says that “the state constitutional bodies shall take all necessary measures to ensure Georgia’s full integration into the EU and NATO.” It also reads that the 2020 parliamentary elections will employ a mixed electoral system and the election threshold will be lowered from 5 to 3 percent. At the same time, parties will be able to form political blocs, however only for the 2020 elections. U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Confirms New Envoy to Azerbaijan The United States Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations confirmed the appointment of Earle Litzenberger, a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, as the next ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan on Thursday.  “If confirmed, I pledge to work closely with this Committee and all Members of Congress to advance U.S. interests in Azerbaijan,” read Litzenberger’s statement to the committee issued in October. If voted on favorably by the entire Senate in the coming weeks, Litzenberger will replace Ambassador Robert Cekuta, who departed post in Baku in April after three years of service. Litzenberger will be the twelfth American ambassador to Azerbaijan since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Baku in 1992, shortly after the country regained its independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Litzenberger’s most recent job was Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the State Department. He has also served as the Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Mission to NATO; the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, Serbia; and the U.S. embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Zurabishvili Sworn in as Georgia’s First Female President Salome Zurabishvili, a French-born former Georgian foreign minister, was sworn in as Georgia’s first female president on Sunday, Sputnik reported.  The inauguration ceremony, broadcast by several TV channels, was held in Batonis-Tsikhe, the residence of King Heraclius II (1720-1798).  "I, the president of Georgia, declare before the Lord and the people, that I will honor the constitution, the country’s independence, its unity and integrity, and faithfully fulfill the duties of the president and take care about the security of citizens and their welfare, and the revival and glory of my people and the motherland," said Zurabishvili. 1.6 Million People Live Below Poverty Line in Kyrgyzstan 1 million 601 thousand people lived below the poverty line in Kyrgyzstan in 2017. These data were published in the National Statistics Committee's magazine “Living Standard of the Kyrgyz Republic”, Trend reports referring to kabar.kg.  According to the study, the results of assessments of measuring population welfare in Kyrgyzstan were made on the basis of a sample survey of budgets of 5,016 households.  The survey results show that the level of poverty in 2017, calculated by consumer spending, in the whole country was 25.6% and increased by 0.2% compared to the previous year.  The value of the total poverty line in 2017 amounted to 32 thousand 93 soms per year per capita, the extreme - 17 thousand 471 soms.  The poverty level in rural areas decreased by 0.6% points, while in urban areas, by contrast, increased by 1.8% points. Prime Ministers of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan to Discuss Border Issues Meeting of the Prime Ministers of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan will take place tomorrow, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan reported Trend reports referring to 24.kg.  According to it, the second meeting of the Council of Heads of Border Regions of Uzbekistan and Plenipotentiary Representatives of the Government of Kyrgyzstan in the border regions will be held in Osh city. The heads of the Cabinet of Ministers of the two countries will chair the meeting.  Earlier, following the negotiations of the working groups of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, two more sections of the state border have been demarcated. Russian and NATO Military Chiefs Meet in Baku Amidst Tensions The top military officers from Russia and NATO met in Azerbaijan’s capital city on Wednesday for talks about defense issues, including NATO’s recent reinforcement of forces and activities near Russia’s western borders.  General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and First Deputy Minister of Defense, and General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, reportedly discussed regional and global security during their meeting in Baku, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.  “Valery Gerasimov noted the strengthening of the advanced NATO military presence near the borders of Russia, which does not contribute to reducing tensions,” read a statement issued by the ministry on December 12. “The parties informed each other about the most important operational training activities planned in 2019. Confirmed interest in maintaining contacts.” According to a read-out posted to NATO’s website, General Scaparrotti highlighted the priority that NATO attaches to transparency and predictability of military activities.

Economy

Turkmen Avaza to Host 1st Caspian Economic Forum Turkmenistan plans to hold the 1st Caspian Economic Forum in its coastal resort Avaza on August 12, 2019, the Caspian Sea Day, Trend reports citing the Turkmen government.  It is worth noting that on the initiative of Turkmenistan, the decision to hold the forum was made at the 5th Summit of the Heads of State of the Caspian littoral states held on August 12 this year in Aktau, Kazakhstan.  The issue of preparing for the Caspian Economic Forum was recently discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan. According to the Turkmen Dovlet Khabarlary state news agency, the President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov stressed that the development of fruitful cooperation with the countries of the Caspian region is among the priority vectors of Turkmenistan's foreign policy, based on the principles of positive neutrality, good neighborliness and mutually beneficial partnership. "The strategic importance of the Caspian Sea in regional and interregional geopolitical and geo-economic processes, its role as an important transit and transport and logistics hub necessitate the further integration of efforts of the Caspian states for the implementation of key areas of cooperation with a view to a long-term perspective," the Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper quoted Berdimuhamedov. Azerbaijan-Pakistan Direct Flights to be Launched A direct flight will be launched between Azerbaijan and Pakistan and the corresponding work has already begun, Azerbaijani ambassador to Pakistan Ali Alizade, who took part in the "Diplomatic Enclave" program of the Channel 5 Pakistan, said.  The ambassador said that Azerbaijan is interested in the expansion of cooperation in trade and economy, Trend reports with reference to the Azerbaijani embassy in Pakistan.  “Many joint projects are being implemented by the countries,” he said. “Exhibitions are held.”  “There are about 300 Pakistani companies and businessmen in Azerbaijan,” Alizade added. “The number of Pakistani tourists visiting Azerbaijan has increased.”  The ambassador also spoke about the favorable conditions created in Azerbaijan for foreign investors in agricultural, industrial and technological parks. Turkey Demonstrates Export Potential at Exhibition in Ashgabat An exhibition of Turkish export goods, organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan and the Turkish Meridyen International Fair Organization, is being held in Ashgabat, Trend reports via the information from the organizers.  The event is attended by the representatives of the Turkish state agencies, heads and specialists of 70 companies.  The participants include manufacturers of electric equipment (Vatan Kablo A.S., Cagdas Pano, Askomak Gida Degirmencilik), pipe and plumbing products (Elmas Irrigation Systems). STK Makina and Pimak Professional Kitchen present various technologies for import-substituting production. Astas Tekstili and Oztas Ic Giyim exhibit products of the textile industry, while Monty Parfum present perfumery products, and EM-KA Celik Konstruksiyon, Cemina and Dogus Firca represent the sphere of production of building materials, metal structures and accessories for various objects. Azerbaijan Pins High Hopes for Export Mission’s Visit to Germany in 2019 The close cooperation between Azerbaijan and Germany is observed through the organization of economically significant events and trade fairs supported by both countries, Executive Director of the German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce (AHK Azerbaijan) Tobias Baumann told Trend.  He stressed that AHK Azerbaijan is the official representative of Messe München (one of the world`s leading organizers of trade fairs) in Azerbaijan and Georgia.  "We provide the companies from both countries with the technical support and facilitate their participation in the trade fairs in Munich as exhibitors and/or visitors," Baumann said.  He went on to say that every year in October-November the chamber organizes a traditional German-Azerbaijani Business Forum. Iran Railway Company Becomes Member of Railway Union of CIS Countries The Iran Railway Company has become a member of the Railway Union of the CIS countries, Babak Ahmadi, deputy director for trade affairs of the Iran Railway Company, said.  The impact of the sanctions on the railway sector is minimal, Trend reports referring to Mehr News Agency.  Good programs are being implemented through the private companies, Ahmadi said.  As for the problems with the Russian railcars, Iranian railcars will be fully used to transport cargoes in the next few months, he added.  He added that trucks are not good for the transportation of cargoes in the CIS area.  Therefore, it is necessary to work on the transportation of cargo by railcars, Ahmadi said. Kazakhstan, Russia Eye to Increase Transit Traffic Kazakhstan’s KTZ Express JSC and Russia’s RZD Logistics JSC, a multimodal logistics operator, are working on projects for container transportation from China to Europe by transit through Kazakhstan and Russia, Vyacheslav Valentik, director general of RZD Logistics JSC, told Trend.  He noted that the main task is to increase the transit through Kazakhstan by four times, as well as to increase the general transit through Central Asia.  Valentik reminded that during the 23rd International Exhibition for Transport and Logistics Services and Technologies TransRussia/TransLogistica 2018, RZD Logistics JSC and KTZ Express JSC signed an agreement on the mutual development of rail traffic in international transportation. Azerbaijan, Turkey Ink Protocol on International Road Transport The Azerbaijani-Turkish joint commission on international road transport held its next meeting in Izmir, Trend reports referring to the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan.  The purpose of the meeting was to further develop cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey in the field of international road transport, as well as the implementation of the requirements of bilateral agreements concluded between the two countries.  The meeting was chaired from the Azerbaijani side by the head of the State Road Transport Service under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan Habib Hasanov and from the Turkish side – by head of the General Directorate of Road Transport Regulation of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of Turkey Mahmut Gurses. (Sources: AzerNews, Caspian News, Trend News Agency, and Xinhua Net.)

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