Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition: Opening speech
Mr. President, Ministers, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to visit Azerbaijan for the first time and to attend the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition.
Norway is very pleased with the close relations that have developed between our countries in the energy sphere and the increasingly close cooperation between Statoil and SOCAR. The Norwegian supply industry has also made substantial deliveries to projects in the Caspian Sea.
The Caspian region plays an increasingly important role in the world energy market.
Azerbaijan has long proved itself to be a reliable and important partner as a producer of oil and gas.
Our two countries share the ambition of being reliable suppliers of energy to Europe. Azerbaijan has a key role to play as the enabler of the southern gas corridor, which will link the Caspian region even closer to Europe. Norway fully supports a southern gas corridor, which will further enhance Europe’s security of supply. The corridor is important to many European countries.
Azerbaijan’s oil history dates back as far as the 1840s. Norway’s experience goes back to the late 1960s.
Statoil was among the first international oil companies to invest in Azerbaijan when independence was re-established and international oil companies were invited in.
Both Azerbaijan and Norway face the challenge of making sure that our energy resources are managed in a sustainable manner. We must ensure that the resources will also benefit our children and grandchildren, thus taking a long-term perspective in the resource management.
Let me share a reflection based on Norway’s own experience. When a substantial part of the national income is generated by oil and gas exports, it is particularly important that we have clear and transparent rules and practices governing both the extraction of resources and the handling of the revenues generated. Too many countries have experienced the so-called resource curse – where short-lived money flows have led to massive social disparities, inflated spending and lack of control of a vital national reserve. Hence, our joint focus on the need for long-term strategies, environmental responsibility, and transparency is crucial.
Azerbaijan’s focus on the environment and the establishment of a national oil fund is commendable. Norway also hopes to see a continued dialogue on other topics for the mutual benefit of our two countries, such as regional stability and security, human rights and democracy.
I am pleased about Norway’s cooperation with Azerbaijan in the framework of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, where countries and companies work together to promote transparency, accountability and good governance.
We commend Azerbaijan for embracing this initiative at a very early stage and for setting an important example. I look forward to participating in a seminar on these important issues later today.
It is also worth mentioning the growing importance that is being attached to corporate social responsibility. Governments, commercial entities and civil society all have important roles to play in creating a solid basis for sustainable development for the benefit of the entire society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Azerbaijan’s role in the global energy market is already important, and its role is set to become even more significant in the future.
I hope to see the mutually beneficial partnership between Azerbaijan and Norway develop further in the years to come – in the energy sphere and in other areas.