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Cablegate: Azerbaijan: President Aliyev On Upcoming Gas

DE RUEHKB #1771/01 3391544
O 051544Z DEC 06

Tuesday, 05 December 2006, 15:44
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 001771
EO 12958 DECL: 12/04/2016
REF: BAKU 1720
Classified By: Ambassador Anne E. Derse, Reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (U) ACTION REQUEST: Please see Paragraph 10.
2. (C) SUMMARY: President Aliyev told the Ambassador on December 5 that he expected the December 8 Trilateral meeting of Energy Ministers in Tbilisi to “clarify” whether Turkey was willing to help Georgia with its winter gas problems. He said Azerbaijan would host a subsequent December 14 meeting in Baku among Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, plus BP and Statoil. Aliyev again blamed BP for linking commercial issues to the current gas problems, and reported that “nothing had changed” in Azerbaijan,s gas negotiations with Russia during Russia PM Fradkov,s visit to Baku. END SUMMARY.
3. (C) On December 5 the Ambassador met with President Aliyev and discussed both energy and press freedom issues (septel). Energyoff was notetaker.
Russian PM Fradkov Visit Readout
4. (C) Concerning the just concluded visit to Baku of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Aliyev said that “nothing had changed” concerning the Gazprom offer of gas to Azerbaijan at 1.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) at USD 230 per thousand cubic meters (mcm). Aliyev said that Russia knows Azerbaijan will not buy at this price, which would be more expensive than Azerbaijan’s burning mazut in its power plants. Aliyev said that he did not even seek to raise the issue with Fradkov, but that Fradkov had broached it. Aliyev said that Fradkov contended that the Gazprom offer was not “anti-Azerbaijan,” and was purely a commercial decision, but Aliyev added that Gazprom’s sales of gas to Ukraine at USD 130 per mcm belies this claim. Aliyev said that Russia justifies its lower gas sales price to Armenia by its being Armenia’s close ally and by purchase of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, by which, he said, Russia seeks to control strategic future gas export routes to Europe. Russia was trying to “circle the European gas market,” which also was influencing its negotiations with Belarus, but here too there has not been an agreement on sales price.
5. (C) Aliyev said that Fradkov also proposed that Russia could help Azerbaijan in transporting its gas to third countries, although Aliyev told the Ambassador his response was that he did not see how such ‘help’ would be possible. Fradkov told Aliyev that Russia was going to need more gas for domestic use, which would reduce volumes it could sell to Europe. Aliyev said that Russia was working with Algeria to form a gas monopoly.
Gas Trilat
6. (C) The Ambassador said she knew that Aliyev had had a good discussion with DAS Bryza on energy issues in Minsk and with Georgian PM Noghaideli when he visited Baku on November 30, and that based on the latter meeting there was going to be a trilateral meeting of the Turkish, Georgian and Azerbaijani Energy Ministers in Tbilisi on December 8. Aliyev said Georgian and Azerbaijan shared a common strategic vision on energy issues, would be coordinating closely in this regard, and as such, during Noghaideli’s December 4-14 visit to the United States he would be delivering an Azerbaijani message as well as a Georgian one (Comment: The Georgian Ambassador told the Ambassador on December 5 that in his US visit Georgian PM Noghaideli would ask Secretary Rice and Vice-President Cheney to “encourage” BP to help this winter). Aliyev said that he had expected the Turkish and Georgian governments to have had positive discussions prior to Noghaideli’s November 30 visit to Baku but that this did not happen, and that the answer Georgia received from Turkey at that time concerning redistribution of Shah Deniz gas was negative, and contrary to the common understanding arrived at in July 2006 among the leaders of the three countries.
BAKU 00001771 002 OF 003
Aliyev said he felt that “the Turkish approach was not sincere,” and as such Azerbaijan and Georgia needed to coordinate tactics and strategy. At a recent high-level meeting of his government Aliyev said he stressed his commitment to the longer-term strategic project of delivering Caspian gas to Europe and that “Azerbaijan should not sacrifice its long-term energy strategy for day-to-day needs.” Azerbaijan’s strategic goal, which Aliyev said was currently more important for Europe than it was for Azerbaijan, was to enter European markets. Putin is saying that Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan cannot supply gas to Europe - “if we don’t do it, we lose the battle.” As such, Azerbaijan has put forward the best possible solution for the short-term gas crunch: some gas for Georgia, some for Turkey, some for Azerbaijan, and some for Greece.
7. (C) The Ambassador said that the Georgians have been led to believe that the Turkish government is going to be more positive in the December 8 Tbilisi meeting, although she could not confirm this assessment (Comment: the Georgian Ambassador told the Ambassador on December 5 that Georgia’s Embassy in Ankara has reported that the Turkish Foreign Ministry is saying that Turkey is now ready to discuss redistributing its 2007 Shah Deniz gas volumes) . She said that DAS Bryza has suggested that after the December 8 trilateral, it might be useful to have another trilateral meeting on December 14 in Baku with the inclusion of BP and Statoil, and she asked the President for his opinion. Aliyev said that “we don’t have time to wait,” noting that the winter holidays were fast approaching. He said he approved the proposed December 14 meeting -- trilateral plus BP and Statoil -- and would be willing for Baku to host it. He added that he had wanted Baku to host the December 8 meeting, but deferred to the Georgian desire to have it in Tbilisi. He said USG involvement in the December 14 meeting would be useful. He said that the December 8 Tbilisi meeting would be very important as it would ‘clarify’ the Turkish position, i.e. whether they were willing to help, and that the December 14 meeting would be similarly important as it would clarify whether BP was willing to help.
BP’s Dangerous Game
8. (C) Aliyev said that BP could deliver more associated gas from the ACG field to Azerbaijan for domestic use, but that it was linking its cooperation in this regard with its desire to extend its Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with Azerbaijan to develop ACG deep gas. Aliyev said it was inappropriate for BP to link all of its issues such as PSA extension, ACG deep gas, transportation tariff agreements and others into one bundle; it also was inappropriate for BP to link the solution of those issues to Azerbaijan’s “temporary troubles.” He said that BP was using “mild blackmail” and argued that BP must instead act in good faith. Aliyev said that he had instructed his officials to tell BP that if it were not “supportive” with ACG associated gas, it would not get its way with PSA extension and ACG deep gas. “If BP won’t give us more ACG associated gas, I have instructed our officials to tell them no PSA extensions or ACG deep gas,” Aliyev underscored. He said that he did not want this to happen, since from an economic viewpoint both the AIOC Consortium and Azerbaijan would benefit from extending the PSA and for the Consortium being the ones to develop ACG deep gas. But it was not just Azerbaijan, but also Europe and Georgia who had a stake in this issue. Aliyev concluded by saying that if Turkey agreed to redistribute its 2007 Shah Deniz gas that “would almost be the way out,” but that then Azerbaijan would still need BP support in both redistributing this Shah Deniz gas and also in giving Azerbaijan more ACG associated gas.
9. (C) The President also mused that “we could cut the gas supply to Turkey” if need be. The Ambassador pointed out that this would be an extreme measure with serious repercussions. She asked Aliyev if he knew the reasons for Turkish truculence concerning gas redistribution. He said he did not, but suspected it could be monetary, i.e. buying gas at USD 120 per mcm and selling it at USD 230. He also
BAKU 00001771 003 OF 003
conjectured that Turkey could be under serious pressure from Russia.
10. ACTION REQUEST: Ambassador will meet with BP Azerbaijan President Bill Schrader December 8. Department’s guidance, particularly information on the message being delivered to BP officials in Washington, is requested. DERSE

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