10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting was held in Baku President Ilham Aliyev attended the event

The 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting have been held at the Gulustan Palace in Baku.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the event.

The head of state delivered a speech at the event.

Speech by

President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Prime Minister Rama.

Dear Commissioner Simson.

Dear guests.

Ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I’d like to welcome Prime Minister Edi Rama and express gratitude to him for being with us at this important event. Albania and Azerbaijan are two friendly countries. We actively cooperate in different areas. We have a very active political dialogue. My meetings with Prime Minister have a regular agenda both in Albania and Azerbaijan as well as on the sidelines of the different international events. We support each other within international institutions and also work actively on energy security issues. Albania played a very important role in implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project and continues to play an important role as a member of the TAP team. Now we are discussing different aspects of our energy cooperation. I'm sure that during today's discussions with Prime Minister, we will address all the outstanding issues.

I'd also like to express the gratitude to Madame Commissioner Simson for visiting us again. As you know, Commissioner Simson and the Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan are the co-chairs of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor. They play an important role in bringing the big and growing team together, and, of course, an important role of EU in implementation of all our plans. The Azerbaijan-EU cooperation on energy diversification and energy security created the absolutely new geography of supplies.

During many meetings of the Advisory Council in the previous years, we always addressed the issue of energy security. Azerbaijan's position was very consistent -we considered it as an important factor of national security of every country. When we were talking about diversification, our position always was and is that it must be diversification of not only supply routes but also sources.

Today's geopolitical situation in Eurasia proves exactly what we needed to do. In case of Azerbaijan, the Southern Gas Corridor is absolutely a new route, with now many extensions and interconnectors. The Azerbaijani gas is a new source. So here, in this format, and in the project, which we initiated, we see full implementation of energy diversification issues.

Since we met last time, a year ago here at the Gulustan Palace, there have been several important milestones. As usually, during the Advisory Council Meetings, the group reviews what has been done and sees what additionally must be done to tackle all the outstanding issues and most importantly, plans the future mutual and common steps.

One of the important events during the last year period was the beginning of commercial natural gas production from the Absheron gas and condensate field in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. This was the second largest discovery of huge gas deposits after Shahdeniz. Actually, the Absheron gas and condensate field will be also a resource base for our future energy diversification projects. The first phase of Absheron project has been approved. We expect annual production at the level of 1.5 billion cubic meters. When we agree on the second phase, it will add an additional 4-5 billion cubic meters with the most of which to be also channeled to the international markets.

Another important achievement, I would say, is that Azerbaijan started supplying natural gas to two more countries last year, namely Hungary and Serbia, thus expanding the geography of our supplies in Europe. Today, Azerbaijan is supplying natural gas to eight countries with six of them being European countries. The interconnector projects have been inaugurated last year in Europe. Firstly, they were generated by the Southern Gas Corridor project. And secondly, they will allow us to continue our efforts in order to embrace as many destinations in Europe as possible.

The demand for the Azerbaijani gas is here. We have the resources, and transportation routes exist.By the way, through the active communication with our Turkish friends during the last year, we agreed on using the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline system through Türkiye. This is, I would say, the diversification inside the diversification project. There can be many more other alternatives and options because all of them serve the common goal of how to address issues of energy diversification and energy security with maximum efficiency.

Azerbaijan, I think, already proved to be a reliable partner. Our word means the same as our signature. All the plans, which we've put in front of ourselves, I'm sure, will be implemented because only the performance of the last year demonstrates that.

Another important moment for our energy project is that the company from the friendly United Arab Emirates, ADNOC became a shareholder of the Absheron project. We welcome that and welcome to the team. That will add additional financing and also expertise, and enlarge international cooperation. We have requests from many energy companies to work with us. All of them are being reviewed based on the performance and our energy agenda.

With respect to our future plans, of course, today it will be discussed broadly. I just want to mention some of them. First of all, we expect the beginning of the natural gas production in the first quarter of the next year from the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli deep gas project. This is a very promising structure with a very large deposit. For many years, the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli has been the main source of our oil exports. And now, with these huge gas deposits, which we already agreed with our partners to explore, it will be an additional contribution. In the beginning, the production is planned at around half a billion cubic meters, but it will grow maybe three-four, maybe, five times within several years, being an additional source to gas supply along with the Shahdeniz and Absheron.

We also have plans to develop the second phase of the Umid gas condensate field, which potentially can bring additional 2-3 bcm within 3-4 years.

So, all of these plans are absolutely realistic. They're based on a thorough analysis, data, information and our financial resources, as well as our agreements with our investors. Some of the projects will be implemented together with investors but some by SOCAR itself. All these demonstrate that potential is here and potential is growing.

So, all kinds of rumors, which have been circulating for many years that “there is no enough gas in Azerbaijan” to supply the growing needs of European consumers once again show that they are absolutely groundless. It was a part of the campaign against Azerbaijan in order to undermine our potential and to send the wrong message to the international community and consumers.

Azerbaijan is also part of the green transition process. This year has been announced and declared as the “Green World Solidarity Year” in Azerbaijan. Our renewable projects also demonstrate high-level of performance. Since we met last time, I would like to inform you that we inaugurated the first big solar power plant in Azerbaijan last October with a capacity of 230 megawatts, built by Masdar, one of the leading companies in the area of renewables. This is only the beginning. According to signed contracts and MOUs, we plan to generate up to 5000 megawatt or 5 gigawatt of solar and wind energy until 2030.

Our main investors are Masdar from UAE, ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia. Companies from other countries are also working with us. We have huge potential of renewables, whether it's in the Caspian Sea or our onshore potential. As you know, with the Black Sea green cable project, we plan to become also an important exporter of green energy to Europe.

It has already been decided that there will be integrated projects from wind farms in the Caspian Sea with new transmission lines extending all the way down to Europe under the Black Sea. So, these are the plans, and of course, the more renewable sources we have, the more natural gas we will save, which now we use for electricity.

It will be an additional contribution to the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor has already been operating for three years. It is a really success story. It is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Eurasia. This project with the integrated pipeline system of 3,500 kilometers in length is a project of energy security and cooperation because without cooperation between all the countries, which are situated on route of the Southern Gas Corridor, it wouldn’t have been possible to implement this project.

So, we come to an important point where we see energy and fossil fuels as instruments and means to build partnership and cooperation. And the last point on fossil fuels issues. We now see kind of a trend that fossil fuel is something, which brings only problems. We also need to be fair with the countries rich with oil and gas. It is not the fault of these countries that they have oil and gas. They must not be blamed for that and discriminated. I think that the performance of countries with fossil fuels must be judged by how they address the issue of environmental protection and green transition. Only after that, after the fair analysis, the judgment can be made about these countries. Otherwise, we will see a kind of dividing lines between oil and gas producers and those who do not have these resources.

Talking about that, of course, I'd like also to draw your attention to the issue of financing. Taking into account that we have representatives of the leading financial institutions of the world here, at this table, the financing of the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor and any other project related to natural gas must be done in such a way that our main target is not undermined.

There was and there is a big demand from Europe for Azerbaijani gas. We have been approached by many countries. As I said, six are already recipients of our natural gas.

There are several more with which we have negotiations. The gas is needed and we have the resources and infrastructure. I think that at least financing of this project from European financial institutions must be done based on a realistic approach and should not be overshadowed by general anti-fossil fuel trends.

We all know what is happening. Azerbaijan, as I said, is in an active phase of green transition, but at the same time, no one can ignore the fact that without fossil fuel, the world cannot develop, at least in the foreseeable future.

And the last point. Azerbaijan has an honor of being the host country for COP29. As soon as the decision was made last December, immediately, we were attacked by different NGOs, media, etc., only for one reason - because we have oil and that was considered to be our biggest fault. Though, as I say, it's not a fault, it's a gift from the God. But we've been attacked that “how can a fossil fuel-rich country be a host of COP?”. And let's look at it from a different angle. Yes, we have enough oil and gas. We can live without renewables for coming 100 years. All our reserves are proven. Everybody knows that.

But the fact that we wanted to host this global event on climate change demonstrates our will. We must be praised for that and not attacked. We didn't do anything wrong. But as soon as the decision was made, immediately, we faced a coordinated, consolidated and very unfair attack on us.

There have been many attacks on Azerbaijan in the previous years. We have a very thick skin. We can protect ourselves, but I just want to inform you that the decision and unanimous decision to organize COP29 in Azerbaijan is a sign of respect of international community for our country and our willingness to host and contribute demonstrates our green agenda.

So, I will conclude now, once again, thank you for being with us. Using this opportunity, I'd like to invite you all to be our partners on this important journey to COP29. Thank you.

x x x

Then, Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania Edi Rama and European Union Commissioner for Energy, co-chair of the Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor Mrs. Kadri Simson made their speeches.

Representatives from 23 countries, including Azerbaijan and the European Union, along with 6 international organizations and 44 companies, participated in the 10th annual ministerial meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor. The event was attended by ministers, deputy ministers, and other high-level representatives.

Following the opening session, the meeting progressed through plenary sessions, focusing on key topics such as "Southern Gas Corridor and Green Energy Ministerial Session," "Southern Gas Corridor Session: A Look into the Future," and "Green Energy Session in the Context of COP29: Utilizing the Potential of Restored Energy."

Within the framework of the Advisory Council, the 6th ministerial meeting delved into the implementation of the "Strategic Partnership Agreement on the Development and Transmission of Green Energy between the Governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Hungary." Additionally, a roundtable discussion on the "Development of Wind Energy at Sea" was held as part of the Azerbaijan-European Union twenty-sided table.

The ministerial meeting under the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council has been an annual event since February 2015, marking its 10th year in 2024. The gathering serves as a crucial platform for discussing strategic energy partnerships, exploring future developments in the Southern Gas Corridor, and assessing the prospects of green energy in the context of the upcoming COP29.

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