Media Highlights of the Week
Author:Caspian Policy Center
May 7, 2019
Kazakhstan Resumes Turkmen Gas Transit to Russia KazTransGas JSC, the Kazakh national gas pipeline monopoly, announced that they had resumed transportation of Turkmen natural gas to Russia via the Central Asia-Center pipeline. The Kazakh firm reported that they were transferring 15 million cubic meters per day to Russia and have already delivered 220 million cubic meters. Si Bu Drilling held responsible for Mangistau oilfield fire The Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development of Kazakhstan announced the results of their investigation into the fire which broke out in March at the Kalamkas field near Mangistau. The investigatory commission concluded that the fire was started by depressurization of blowout equipment caused by employees of Si Bu Drilling. The commission further stated that Si Bu was not in compliance with relevant safety regulation. As a result of increased scrutiny upon the firm, regulators also found inconsistencies in Si Bu’s corporate documents, causing the firm’s license to be revoked. EU Ambassador Comments on Expansion of SGC Kestutis Jankauskas, the EU ambassador to Azerbaijan, recently commented on the prospects for enlarging the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) bringing Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and Southern Europe. He noted that the SGC has not reached the final stage of its development; rather, it is “it is an enabler and a beginning.” He elaborated by stating that the transport capacity of extant pipelines could be increased by adding additional pressurization stations to the route. Jankauskas also suggested that Turkmenistan could be added to the SGC project in the future to expand the supply of gas available for transport. Uzbekistan Selects Site for Construction of Nuclear Plant During a state visit to Central Asia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Russia and Uzbekistan had reached agreement on a site for the planned nuclear power station to be built in cooperation with RosAtom. This announcement suggests that the schedule for construction has been moved up, since the original timetable anticipated a final decision on the plant’s location would be reached in 2020. The construction of the plant is expected to start in the Navoi region in 2022, with the start of electrical power output expected in 2028. Occidental Agrees to Sell Anadarko Assets to Total for $8.8 Billion Occidental Petroleum Corp. agreed to sell Anadarko Petroleum Corp. assets in four African nations to Total SA for $8.8 billion, contingent on the Houston-based oil producer’s long-running effort to buy Anadarko. The assets that would be sold are in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique, and South Africa, Occidental said in a statement Sunday. They would represent about 6 percent of Occidental’s proforma expected net production and 7 percent of the cash flow after capital expenditures for 2020. Uzbekistan’s Senate Endorses Tax Breaks for Renewable Energy The Senate of Uzbekistan yesterday adopted legislation that would provide tax exemptions for producers of alternative energy. Industrial-scale producers would be exempt from property tax for 10 years and sales of electricity to UzbekHydroEnergo would be free of VAT. Manufacturers of renewable energy technology would be exempt from all forms of taxation for a period of 5 years. Finally, citizens that choose to disconnect from the main grid to utilize a microgrid based on renewable electricity would be exempt from property and land tax. The bill will go to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyev for signature before entering law. Total Expects Hydrocarbon Output Growth to Exceed 9 Percent Total expects its hydrocarbon output growth to exceed 9 percent as of 2019. “Production growth should exceed 9 percent in 2019, thanks to the ramp-up of projects started in 2018 and the start-ups this year of Kaombo Sul in Angola, Iara 1 in Brazil, Culzean in the UK and Johan Sverdrup in Norway. To take advantage of the favorable cost environment, the Group is working to launch profitable projects, including Mero 2 in Brazil, Tilenga & Kingfisher in Uganda and Arctic LNG 2 in Russia,” reads a report on Q1 2019 results released by Total. Uzbekistan Prepares for Energy Conferences in May Uzbekistan is gearing up for two major energy conferences to be held in Tashkent in May. Uzbekistan International Oil & Gas will occur on May 15 and 16, featuring over 100 companies including oil and gas majors. Power Uzbekistan will take place from May 15 to 17 and is expected to host around 50 organizations from 11 countries. Nuclear power will be featured for the first time at Power Uzbekistan in light of the government’s commitment to building Uzbekistan’s first nuclear power plant.
Belarusian Military Delegation Visits Azerbaijan A Belarusian delegation led by First Deputy Defense Minister of Belarus, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Major General Oleg Belokonev arrived in Baku on May 6. Azerbaijan’s First Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Colonel General Najmeddin Sadikov met with him in an expanded format. Major General Belokonev reiterated Belarus’s support for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and expressed hope for further cooperation in the military-technical sphere. U.S. Delegation Makes Annual Visit to Turkmenistan An American delegation led by Director of the Office of Central Asian Affairs of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Mark Moody traveled to Ashgabat on May 6. The visit was a follow-up on the fifth Annual Bilateral Consultations that took place in October. The delegation announced that U.S.-Turkmen relations were progressing well and thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting them. First Election Observers Accredited in Kazakhstan The Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan accredited 45 observers from international organizations in preparation for presidential elections on June 9. In total, Kazakhstan expects to welcome over a thousand observers, some of whom will arrive in the coming weeks and stay until the election is completed, and some who will not arrive until the eve of the vote. Organizations who have sent observers already include the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member States. Iran and Russia to Hold Joint Naval Drills The Iranian Navy announced on April 30 that it will hold drills with Russia in the Persian Gulf sometime in the coming months. Russian ships will soon begin docking in Southern Iran in preparation for the drills. Croatia Opens Embassy in Kazakhstan Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejcinovic Buric visited Kazakhstan and opened Croatia’s new embassy in Nur Sultan. She later met with Kazakh Senate Chairwoman Dariga Nazarbayeva to discuss increasing inter-parliamentary ties between the two countries. Turkey Hosts Defense Exhibition The International Defense Exhibition (IDEF) 2019 took place from April 30 to May 3 in Istanbul. Thousands of weapons and pieces of equipment were displayed from 1,061 different defense companies representing 68 countries. Several countries showcased new weaponry. Azerbaijan displayed its QFAB-250 LG high-explosive air bomb for the first time outside its borders and Russia featured its new frigate Admiral Essen, a new warship designed to operate in far sea zones.
OPEC, IDB Exploring Turkmen Investment Projects in Fishing Industry The Turkmen open joint-stock company Khazar Balyk held talks with the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (under the IDB), according to the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan. There was a discussion of the prospects for cooperation in the implementation of investment projects, the report said. Kazakhstan Increases Exports to China Kazakhstan now exports 113 types of products to China, according to kazpravda.kz. "The export includes 16 types of livestock products, 16 types of crop products and 81 types of processed products. The obvious leaders among exported goods are wheat, vegetable oil, oil seeds, flour, soy, and fish. Last year, Kazakhstan exported mutton and honey for the first time," reads the news report. Cargo Transshipment from Georgia via Turkish Ports Reaches Almost 700k Tons In March 2019, the volume of cargo transshipment from Georgia through the ports of Turkey amounted to 695,283 tons. The ministry noted that in March 2019 the volume of cargo transshipment from Georgia by ships flying the Turkish flag amounted to 437,253 tons, while ships flying flags of other countries accounted to 4,258,030 tons of cargo. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan to Co-Op in Air Defense Field Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have agreed to share their military airfields. Deputy Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan Baurzhan Tortaev stated that relevant international treaties were signed on April 15 of this year within the framework of the state visit of the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev to Uzbekistan and in accordance with the current plan for concluding international treaties of Kazakhstan for 2019. Azerbaijan to Act as Donor Country in International Finance Organizations Azerbaijan will participate as a donor country in the programs of international financial organizations, as well as the Asian Development Fund of the ADB, said the Minister of Finance Samir Sharifov. He made the remarks at the sidelines of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank, held in Fiji. (Sources: ARKA News Agency, AzerNews, Bloomberg, Eurasianet, France 24, KazInform, Kazpravda.kz, Maritime Herald, New Europe, News.az, The Times of Central Asia, Trend News Agency, and the Turkish Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.)