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Cablegate: Bp Azerbaijan President Says Azerbaijan Moving

DE RUEHKB #1661/01 3191138
P 151138Z NOV 06

Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 11:38
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 001661
EO 12958 DECL: 11/15/2016
REF: ANKARA 006396
Classified By: Ambassador Anne. E. Derse, Reasons 1.4 (B,D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: At a November 10 Azerbaijan International Oil Company briefing, outgoing BP Azerbaijan President David Woodward told the Ambassador that according to SOCAR President Rovnaq Abdullayev, Turkey had not agreed to forego its contracted for 2007 Shah Deniz gas deliveries as a way of helping Azerbaijan and Georgia with their winter gas problems, although they were willing to defer delivery of some amounts if the contracted for price of USD 120 per thousand cubic meters remained the same. Woodward said that Turkey was declaring itself ready to receive Shah Deniz gas, although he himself had doubts. He said that a joint BP-SOCAR working group would start work soon to discuss ways of redressing possible GOAJ domestic gas shortages in winter 2007. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On November 10 the Ambassador attended an Azerbaijan International Oil Company briefing headed by outgoing BP Azerbaijan President David Woodward. Other attendees were incoming BP Azerbaijan President Bill Schrader, BP Group Azerbaijan Director for Communications and External Affairs Clare Bebbington, UK Ambassador Laurie Bristow, UK EconOff, and Econoff as notetaker.
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3. (C) Woodward gave a read-out of his November 2 meeting with SOCAR President Rovnaq Abdullayev. This meeting, prompted by the visit to Azerbaijan of BP Executive Vice-President and Deputy Chief Executive of Exploration and Production Andy Inglis, occurred right after Abdullayev had returned from Turkey with Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov, where they had notified Turkey of intended delays in GOAJ 2007 Shah Deniz gas deliveries. Abdullayev, fresh off the plane, provided Woodward and Inglis a read-out of his Turkey meeting with Energy Minister Gular and Botas. Rovnaq told them that Botas would not sign the document he had brought, in which Turkey was asked to agree to GOAJ providing no Shah Deniz gas in 2007 and in which the GOAJ sought to re-open Shah Deniz price negotiations. Turkey insisted on receiving its contracted for 2007 three billion cubic meters (bcm) of Shah Deniz gas at the agreed upon price of USD 120 per thousand cubic meter (tcm), but said it did not have to receive it all in 2007. It proposed that it could take half (1.5 bcm) in winter 2007, with the rest to be received in 2008 or 2009, at the contracted price of USD 120/tcm. Abdullayev told Inglis that he had gotten Turkey to agree that it would be a transit country for Shah Deniz gas (vice a buyer-seller).
4. (C) During this November 2 meeting with Abdullayev and Sharifov, Energy Minister Gular also said that Turkey was ready to receive Shah Deniz gas. In this regard, Woodward said that he thinks that Botas will ask for commissioning gas during the week of November 13-17. As to how ready Turkey actually is to receive Shah Deniz gas, Woodward said that the BP opinion is that Botas still has a lot of work to do to complete the pipeline to include work on the valve stations, and that if the work were done in accordance with international standards then the pipeline might not be ready until spring 2007. However, he added that “it was not inconceivable” that Botas could “rush finish” the job so that it would be ready to receive gas shortly, although the pipeline would not meet international standards.
5. (C) Woodward said that during the recent visit of BP Executive Inglis, BP had given both President Aliyev and SOCAR President Abdullayev a copy of a BP ‘white paper’ on the way forward for Azerbaijan in the energy sector, (a copy of which he gave to the Ambassador), with the focus on four main themes:
- ACG Maximum Development: Resolving current issues associated with ACG to maximize recovery - Short/medium/long term gas issues: Short-term - how to address this winter’s gas needs; Medium/Long-term: how best
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to identify and exploit GOAJ gas reserves - SOCAR: how to help make SOCAR an energy company that meets international standards - BP Social Programs: putting a ‘harder edge’ on them, to help build capacity in Azerbaijan
6. (C) Woodward said that there were a series of outstanding ACG-related issues the resolution of which involved billions of dollars and which the AIOC partners were trying to resolve with SOCAR in a package, vice individually. In the November 2 meeting between SOCAR President Rovnaq Abdullayev and BP executive Inglis, Abdullayev said that he would head the SOCAR ACG steering group dealing with these problems, and that SOCAR VP Elshad Nassirov would be the SOCAR working level representative. Abdullayev also said he would head the SOCAR team on the BP-SOCAR gas working group, with Nassirov again the working-level representative. Woodward said that Abdullayev had an unrealistic expectation of how quickly these outstanding ACG issues could be resolved: whereas BP thinks that a framework within which to discuss the issues could be agreed upon by January, with actual negotiations over these issues lasting up to six months, Woodward said that Abdullayev told Inglis that the issues could be solved ‘within a few days.’
7. (C) Woodward said that Abdullayev did not show much willingness to engage with BP re Azerbaijan’s short-term (Winter 07) gas problems, contending that AIOC giving SOCAR more associated ACG gas could solve the problem. (Note: AIOC is scheduled to give 1.4 bcm of associated ACG gas to SOCAR in 2007; SOCAR is arguing that AIOC does not need to re-inject any ACG associated gas back into the well, and wants 3 bcm). Woodward said that all sides seemed to be waiting for the results of the President Aliyev-President Putin meeting in Moscow, although he himself doubted whether the two would reach any definitive agreement, as everyone is waiting to see the results of the various CIS bilateral Gazprom negotiations, to see if the USD 230/tcm level will hold.
8. (C) Woodward said he and his replacement Bill Schrader had just returned from Georgia, where they had met separately with the Georgian Energy Minister, Environment Minister and Prime Minister, among others. At these meetings the Georgian proposal of a November three-way gas-focused Turkish-Azerbaijani-Georgian ministerial-level meeting in Tblisi or Ankara was discussed, although nothing definite had been agreed to by all parties. In their meetings, the GOG interlocutors had referred to Turkey’s Summer 2007 ‘agreement in principle’ to supply Georgia from its own Shah Deniz gas, although Woodward said in his opinion all Turkey had agreed to at that time was a ‘bring us a proposal and we’ll have a look at it’ type agreement. Woodward said that the GOG Energy Minister had told him that GA would not buy gas from Gazprom at USD 230/tcm, and that Turkey would supply GOG with 1.5 bcm in 2007. Woodward said the GOG PM was more realistic, saying that perhaps Georgia could get 0.8 to 1.2 bcm from Turkey in 2007. Woodward said the GOG PM seemed more relaxed about the upcoming winter gas situation than did the Energy Minister, and more concerned about Shah Deniz Stage Two-related issues, stating that, inter alia, Georgia and Azerbaijan should look at gas storage issues together, vice separately. Woodward said he got the impression that GOG was more concerned about the economics of gas purchases from Gazprom than the supply itself, and he noted that despite the intense rhetoric flowing between Russia and Georgia, the energy continues to flow.
9. (C) Woodward agreed that Shah Deniz was experiencing production delays, but said that other issues would play a more determinative role in deciding where Shah Deniz gas went, such as the GOG technical capacity to uptake Shah Deniz gas at its border with Azerbaijan. He said that the Gas Pressure Reduction and Metering Station at Pump Station One in Georgia has a maximum daily design throughput of 4.0 million cubic meters, equivalent to 1.46 bcm/a at one hundred percent load (note: this compares to currently contracted
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quantities which build up to around 08. bcm/a by 2011). As such, he said that part of the work of the SOCAR-BP gas working group that would be meeting imminently would be to model how much gas Georgia could uptake from Azerbaijan from a technical viewpoint. He noted that in addition to the SCP (i.e. Shah Deniz) pipeline, there was also the possibility of transferring gas from Azerbaijan to Georgia through the Azerbaijani gas system. As for Shah Deniz gas itself, Woodward said that as soon as the first two of the four wells start flowing (mid-November and late December respectively), will it be clear how quickly and how much production will be available for winter 2007.
10. (C) COMMENT: Before determining what steps to take to redress any possible winter 07 gas shortages in Azerbaijan and Georgia, Azerbaijan first needs to assess its current gas balance and possible alternative supply options. In this regard it is encouraging to hear that the joint BP-SOCAR gas working group is scheduled to meet the week of November 12. Woodward however was disparaging of the selection of SOCAR President Rovnaq Abdullayev and Deputy Prime Minister Sharifov as the GOAJ officials sent to Ankara to deal with the Turkish government (indeed, a Statoil representative told the Ambassador that Abdullayev had taken the wrong version of the Shah Deniz contract to the discussions), and despaired of any solution to the short-term regional problem occurring if management of the issue stayed at the SOCAR level. As such, he requested USG help in convincing Turkey to meet with Azerbaijan and Georgia. Now that Turkey is doing so (see reftel), Embassy will seek to ensure that the GOAJ participates at the appropriate level. END COMMENT. DERSE

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