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caspian weekly roundup

Caspian Weekly Roundup

Author:Caspian Policy Center

Jul 17, 2018

Energy

Equinor to Drill an Appraisal Well in Karabakh Oil and Gas Field in Azerbaijan

The plan is to drill an appraisal well in Karabakh oil and gas field in Azerbaijan, Norway’s Equinor company told Trend, commenting on the planned initial work to be carried out under the agreements signed with Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR in May this year. "We are discussing plans and timing with SOCAR and the exact details are dependent on contracting of equipment and services," said the company. At the same time, Equinor said it is too early to comment on which companies it will be working with on the project. On July 5, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev approved the agreements signed on May 30, 2018 between Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR and Norwegian Equinor.

Russia to Invest in Iranian Oil, Despite Sanctions

Iran claims Russia is willing to invest up to $50 billion in its oil industry, despite the threat of U.S. sanctions. President Putin confirmed this and said there are at least three deals worth approximately $15 billion that are already being negotiated. Russia is willing to invest in exploration, production, and refining. Iran has also discussed investments with Russian energy companies including Rosneft, Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Tatneft, and Zarubezhneft.

TAP’s Compressor Stations Constructed According to Schedule

Approximately half of the compressors and metering stations have been completed along the TAP route, according to Head of Communications at Trans Adriatic Pipeline Lisa Givert. There are two compressor stations, one near Kipoi in eastern Greece and one near Fier in western Albania. Construction of the Fier compressor station is more than 40% complete, while the Kipoi compressor station is more than 50% complete. The overall project is on schedule, with more than 74% of the pipeline completed at the end of May 2018. This includes all engineering, procurement, and construction scope.

Chinese Refiner Dumps US Crude and Turns to Imports of Iranian Oil

Dongming Petrochemical, an independent Chinese refiner, said it has halted crude purchases from the US and turned to Iranian imports amid escalating trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. Chinese authorities are reportedly planning to impose tariffs on US crude imports and replace them with oil from West Africa and the Middle East, including Iran. Beijing said it was not going to fall into line with US sanctions banning business with the Islamic republic. China, India, Japan and South Korea account for almost 65 per cent of the 2.7m barrels a day Iran exported in May, according to Kpler, the tracking company. The US has been lobbying these countries to end crude purchases from Iran, as Donald Trump’s administration ratchets up the pressure on the Islamic republic. Iranian analysts and western diplomats say that China could be the determining factor in helping Tehran withstand economic pressure when new sanctions on its vital energy industry kick in from last November.

MIGA Issues $1.1b in Guarantees to Support TANAP

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank Group, issued $1.1 billion worth of guarantees in support of TANAP. MIGA offered the fifteen-year guarantee to cover AKA Bank, Citi, Crédit Agricole CIB, ING, LBBW, Santander and Société Générale for their loans to Southern Gas Corridor CJSC. Should Azerbaijan be unable to uphold its promise on SGC CJSC’s payment obligations under the loans, MIGA’s guarantees will provide protection.

US and EU Work Together to Have Caspian Gas Delivered to Europe by 2020

Another US-EU Energy Council meeting took place in Brussels with the participation of US Secretary Perry and EU energy commissioner Maroš Šefčovič. They continued discussions on Nord Stream 2. European energy security, and potential us energy supplies to Europe. They boast mutual support for the European energy diversification and success of Caspian national gas deliveries by the year of 2020. This support is important in light of recent hurdles the TAP faced in Italy, which may delay the timely execution of TAP delivering gas to Europe. The US-EU Energy Council is a high-level body launched in 2009 to deepen coordination on strategic energy issues of mutual interest and research and development cooperation.

Security

Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan Reach New Agreement on Joint Border

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan agreed on the passage of the border line along its two sections in particular in the Gava and Havasai areas,”Podrobno.uz” reported on July 16. In accordance with the schedule approved by the governments of the two countries, regular negotiations of working groups of government delegations of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on the delimitation and demarcation of the State border were held in Osh (Kyrgyzstan) from July 9 to 15. Based on the results of the joint field surveys conducted from July 2 to 7, it was determined the passage of the border line along two segments, including the section of Gava and partly on the Gavasai. A protocol was signed after the talks.

Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan to Hold Joint Military Drills

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will hold joint military exercises, Kazakh media reported. Uzbek Defense Minister Abdusalom Azizov is in Kazakhstan on a working visit, according to the report. Azizov has already met with Kazakh Defense Minister Saken Zhasuzakov. During the meeting, the sides discussed preparations for the upcoming joint military exercises and promising areas for cooperation. Following the talks, Uzbek and Kazakh defense ministers signed a number of documents on cooperation in the defense sphere. The Uzbek defense minister also familiarized with the process of training future officers of the Kazakh army. As part of the official visit, the Uzbek delegation will visit other military facilities as well and take part in the active phase of the joint tactical and special exercises.

Russia-China-Iran-Pakistan officials hold quadrilateral meeting on ISIS

The top intelligence officials of Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan held a quadrangular meeting in Islamabad last week to frame a common strategy to eliminate the threat posed by terrorist groups in the region. According to Pakistan’s daily The Nation, the four countries agreed to cooperate and coordinate in fight against the ISIS and all other terrorist groups in the Central Asian countries. Sergei Ivanov, the chief of the press bureau of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, was quoted by Moscow-based TASS news agency saying that “the conference reached understanding of the importance of coordinated steps to prevent the trickling of ISIS terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan where from they would pose risks for neighboring countries.”

High Level EU-Central Asian Meeting

Representatives of the European Union met with delegates from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on July 9th in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan for the fifth round of High Level Political Security Dialogue. Afghanistan was also present as a special guest. The meeting was the fifth annual gathering of the group, which provides a platform for cooperation on regional development issues, especially security. Counterterrorism and preventing violent extremism were an important topic at this year’s dialogue, along with drug trafficking and border management.

Economy

Assets of SOFAZ Reach Highest Level Since Its Inception

The assets of the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) as of July 1, 2018 have increased by 6.22 percent compared to the beginning of 2018 ($35,806.5 million) and stood at $38,036.1 million, which was the highest attained level during its activity since its inception, SOFAZ said in a message July 16. The increase was mainly due to SOFAZ budget revenues and asset management activity, according to the message. Budget revenues of the SOFAZ for the period of January-June, 2018 reached 9,137.7 million manats, while budget expenditures constituted 4,731.6 million manats.

Cargo turnover on Trans-Caspian route to significantly increase by 2020

The potential for growth in trade of the Trans-Caspian route ranges from $646 billion to $922 billion by 2020, which is equivalent to 300,000 containers in cargo capacity, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Kazakhstan Railways Maksat Kabashev told Trend. He added that the cargo base focused on the route is represented by the markets of Kazakhstan’s European, Chinese and Turkish trade partners. From January to June 2018, 1,073 containers with Kazakh grain cargo were transported along this route," Kabashev said.

Chinese companies invest about $800 million in Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Economy said in a statement on July 14 that Chinese companies have invested about $800 million in Azerbaijan. Addressing the meeting with the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan Wei Jinghua, the Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev stressed that Azerbaijan attaches special importance to cooperation with China. The sides also exchanged views on the prospects of future development of Azerbaijani-Chinese economic relations. In terms of the development of relations with China in the fields of transit transport, trade, investment, tourism and other areas, a wine house will be opened in Shanghai, Beijing and other major cities by the end of this year; the Azerbaijani delegations are expected to attend the Chinese-Eurasian exhibition, which will be held in Urumqi in August this year and the international IMPORT EXPO 2018 exhibition, which will be held in November in Shanghai. (Sources: APA, Astana Times, Azer News, Azertag, CBS News, CNBC, CNN Politics, Eurasianet, Europa, Financial Times, The National, News Central Asia, The New York Times, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, Republic of Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Reuters,  RT.com, Tehran Times, TOL, Trend News Agency, trend.az, World Oil, Xinhua News, РИА Новости.)

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