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Caspian Oil and Gas: A New Stage of Development

Caspian Oil & Gas, the 17th International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference incorporating Refining & Petrochemicals, began on 1 June in the capital of Azerbaijan. The event, which was founded by the national leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, is the largest in the oil industry of the Caspian region. The prestige of the exhibition is confirmed by the personal participation of the head of state in the opening ceremony.

In his welcome to exhibitors at the opening of Caspian & Gas 2010, the President of Azerbaijan, H.E. Ilham Aliyev, said: “Azerbaijan’s economy continues to grow at a rapid pace. Using all available opportunities, we must look to the future. Not only is the oil and gas industry developing, but also tourism and hospitality, and new exhibition venues are being built. For example, this year we are holding the event in a magnificent exhibition hall that will serve to attract even more foreign investment in Azerbaijan, which will contribute to the further growth of Azerbaijan’s economy, increase the number of jobs and improve the prosperity of the Azerbaijani people. Once again, I would like to congratulate everyone on the opening of the Caspian Oil & Gas exhibition and conference, and thank the organisers, who for many years have organised this magnificent international event that has become a tradition. And I am sure that this tradition will continue in the future. I wish the exhibition and conference every success.”

The participants of the exhibition and conference were also welcomed by Dr. Carolyn Browne, British Ambassador to Azerbaijan; Ms. Mariam Valishvili, First Deputy Energy Minister of Georgia; Mr. Mohammed bin Dha'en Al Hamili, UAE Minister of Energy; Mr. Yusuf Yazar, Turkish Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources; Mr. Richard Morningstar, U.S. Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy; and Ms. Elizabeth Valaas, Special Adviser to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on energy in the Caspian region and Central Asia.

The opening of the exhibition began with a welcome from Sir Andrew Wood, Senior Advisor to ITE Group Plc, who welcomed the guests on behalf of the organisers, and noted the importance of Caspian Oil & Gas being held in a new exhibition venue. Sir Andrew Wood thanked the President of Azerbaijan for his support of Caspian Oil & Gas, the largest event in the Caspian region.

Dr. Carolyn Browne read out a letter of welcome from David Cameron, who was recently elected to the post of UK Prime Minister: “I would like to congratulate His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev and the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 17th Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference. Azerbaijan is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and the United Kingdom is proud to be Azerbaijan’s partner and friend. I am sure that British and Azerbaijani companies will continue to work closely for many years to come. I hope all the participants enjoy a successful week.”

Ms. Valishvili expressed her gratitude for the invitation to the event and for the hospitality of the Azerbaijani Government and Ministry of Industry and Energy, and read out a letter of welcome from the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili: “On behalf of the President of Georgia, Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili, I would like to welcome all the participants. Azerbaijan and Georgia are strategic partners. We have achieved joint successes in the implementation of several large projects. I wish you interesting discussions at the conference and successful business relationships in the future.”

Mr. Al Hamili touched upon the subject of global oil prices and preserving them at a stable level, and cited figures for the development of the oil industry in the UAE and worldwide.

Mr. Yazar announced his country’s support for all the energy projects implemented by Azerbaijan in the southern Caucasus, and noted the importance of the partnership between the two countries. He also wished all the participants success at the exhibition and conference.

Mr. Morningstar suggested that the holding of the exhibition in a new venue is a symbol of the successful economic policy of the leadership of Azerbaijan. He said that the United States was happy to participate in oil and gas projects in the region, and read out a letter of welcome from the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Your country has emerged as an important and reliable supplier of energy to world markets. In Azerbaijan’s drive to continue developing its energy resources, you will find a strong partner in the United States. The United States is proud to have been a partner of Azerbaijan in realizing these important projects. In particular, we look forward to Azerbaijan’s continued leadership in realizing the Southern Corridor for gas transport to Europe in the near future.”

On behalf of Norway’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Jonas Gahr Store, Ms. Valaas said that for 20 years Norway has successfully worked with Azerbaijan and is the second biggest investor in Azerbaijan. In Mr. Store’s letter of welcome, the Minister said: “I am confident that our partnership will become stronger and deeper.”

At the end of the official part of the opening ceremony, President Aliyev completed a tour of the exhibition. Every year, the exhibition becomes bigger and more varied. This year, Caspian Oil and Gas has brought together 280 companies from 26 countries, increasing the exhibition area by 15% compared with last year. Over 40% of the exhibition space will be taken up by internationally known companies, most of which are regular exhibitors at Caspian Oil and Gas. They include: Itochu, OMV Gas International GmbH, State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), Statoil, Total, TPAO and many others. Among the other exhibitors are national group stands from the UK, China and Russia. This year, UAE is taking part with a national group stand for the first time.

On the first day, the exhibition was a platform for demonstrating new projects to produce and transport oil and gas. For example, Statoil held a 3D seminar on the development of new fields in the Scandinavian platform. As 2010 has been declared the Year of Environment in Azerbaijan, there were interesting demonstrations of alternative energy projects. Visitors were able to watch an exciting show involving a dance group in the outdoor area of the venue.

Particularly notable was the number of visitors on the first day of the exhibition. This was in no small part due to the free shuttle bus to the venue, Baku Expo Center.

Over the 17 years of its existence, Caspian Oil and Gas has passed certain stages of development, while preserving its traditional character and scale. But this year was particularly special for the exhibition, as it was held in a new exhibition venue, Baku Expo Center. The opening of the exhibition was preceded by the official opening ceremony of the building itself. The head of state cut the symbolic ribbon and took a tour of the exhibition complex, which meets all international standards. The total area of Baku Expo Center is 9 hectares and the demonstration area 12,800m². The total area of the central building is 36,163m². The complex has offices, information and press department, a convention hall, utility and technical rooms, and connecting passages leading to the exhibition halls and restaurant. The centre is equipped with all the necessary engineering structures and systems. On the territory of the centre is a revolving media tower built by a Japanese company. The height of the tower is 37m.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive programme of business events. The traditional Caspian Oil & Gas conference will be held on 2 and 3 June in the Hyatt Regency hotel. The exhibition and conference are supported by the Ministry of Industry and Energy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). The exhibition ends on 4 June.

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