Cablegate: President Aliyev On Energy Issues in Advance Of

DE RUEHKB #1227/01 2821414
O 091414Z OCT 07

Tuesday, 09 October 2007, 14:14
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 001227
EO 12958 DECL: 10/09/2017
REF: A. (A) BAKU 1224 B. (B) TBILISI 2498
Classified By: Ambassador Anne E. Derse. Reason: 1.4 (B)(D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: In a one-hour one-on-one meeting with the Ambassador on October 8, President Aliyev outlined with frustration current problems on energy in advance of the Vilnius Summit. British Petroleum (BP) is “stealing our oil,” he asserted sharply, seeking to put pressure on Azerbaijan to delay to 2010 the advent of an 80/20 profit split due next year under the Azeri Chirag Guneshli (ACG) Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) by threatening to cut back on gas it provides to the GOAJ from the ACG field from 3 bcm to 1.4 bcm. “Only Georgia will suffer” if BP continues down this path, he warned, noting Azerbaijan’s commitment, otherwise, to help Georgia on gas this winter. He said the Georgian PM had promised him to enlist Washington’s help with BP. He said BP had asked for time, until October 19, to resume talks. If a good response is not found, Azerbaijan “will make public that BP is stealing our oil,” Aliyev stated. Similarly, he said, Turkey’s 15 percent netback pricing scheme for gas transit is “unacceptable” as it would require Azerbaijan to disclose to Turkey sales agreements with customers in Europe and allow Turkey to sell 15 percent of Azerbaijan’s gas to European markets. A transit agreement is “not so urgent for us that we will accept unjustified conditions from Turkey.”
2. (C) Summary Continued: Azerbaijan has an MOU with Greece, will soon launch talks with Italy, and will not allow Turkey to “block the Azerbaijan-Europe partnership.” He said Turkmenistan seems to want the trans-Caspian option to be implemented but “to hide it from Russia.” Azerbaijan has shown “maximum constructiveness” -- offering its infrastructure to Turkmenistan and pledging to serve as purely a transit country -- but Azerbaijan will not initiate next steps with Turkmenistan -- “We cannot want it more than they do.” Azerbaijan does support the Odessa-Brody-Plotsk oil pipeline for political reasons (“Ukraine, Poland, Georgia are friends to us.”) and will present a concrete plan on next steps at a meeting in Vilnius with Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Georgia with the aim of making the project commercially feasible. Aliyev asked that the U.S. try to deliver the message on the unacceptability of the 15 percent netback pricing proposal to Turkey. He continues to support Nazarbayev’s idea of a 3-way summit between Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan as a good signal and a way to strengthen 3-way relations, but will not initiate the meeting. End Summary.
Georgian Winter Gas
3. (C) President Aliyev opened the discussion on energy by saying that Azerbaijan will help Georgia this winter as it has in the past. He said he confirmed this to the visiting Georgian PM during his September 27 visit to Baku. The GOAJ, however, is having some difficulties with BP, he said. Because the GOAJ halted negotiations on PSA extension and Shah Deniz development, BP is now “trying to put political pressure on us by cutting back on gas it is giving to Azerbaijan, from 3 bcm to 1.4 bcm.” But “only Georgia will suffer” from this step because the Shah Deniz gas they will receive from Azerbaijan will not be enough. “If BP reduces the gas it is giving Azerbaijan, Georgia will get less.” The Georgian PM, Aliyev said, had told him he is aware of this danger, and had said he would talk to Washington to “get them to help us.” (See Ref. A for background on Azerbaijan-BP negotiations.)
4. (C) Aliyev continued that “these things are inter-connected. If BP is supportive and helpful, there will be no problem supplying Georgia.” But the situation with BP is “unpleasant -- they are cheating us on the PSA profit split according to our calculations.” The GOAJ believes that the profit split should have changed in the second quarter of this year. “They are stealing our oil -- they are unilaterally changing the formula on the ROR (rate of return) so the profit split will take place in 2010. SOCAR spoke to (BP Azerbaijan head) Bill Schrader. BP asked for time, until October 19, to come back to discussions.”
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(Comment: BP Azerbaijan on October 9 had no news of an impending visit by BP CEO, per Ref. B. End comment.) If there is not a good response, “we’ll make public that BP is stealing our oil . . . oil that belongs to Azerbaijan, because BP wants the 80/20 profit split that should occur next year to be pushed to 2010.” The Georgian situation, Aliyev repeated, “is connected to that.”
Turkey Transit Agreement
5. (C) Aliyev said that Azerbaijan rejects the Turks’ 15 percent netback proposal. The Turkish formula would require Azerbaijan to disclose to the GOT its commercial agreements with Greece, Italy, and other European countries -- “anywhere our gas goes.” The netback pricing proposal is “not acceptable -- it does not exist in any other transit agreement. We would lose money and Turkey could sell 15 percent of our oil to our markets. This is not fair. We’ll pay an agreed transit tariff. We want to do it on the basis of best international practice. Our position with Turkey is pretty strong. If they block an agreement, they are responsible. The Minister always says Turkey will do the necessary, but then does nothing. We will not accept pressure.”
6. (C) Aliyev noted that it is Turkey and European consumers who need the transit agreement. “It is not so urgent for us that we will agree to unjustified conditions with Turkey.” Azerbaijan has existing and adequate markets for its gas in Georgia and Turkey, he noted. Aliyev asked that the U.S. “deliver (to Turkey) if it can, this message. Turkey wants to get everything.” Turkey does not understand that Azerbaijan has signed an MOU with Greece and will soon start negotiations with Italy. “Turkey cannot block the Azerbaijan-Europe partnership.” Aliyev said Finance Minister Samir Sharifov’s proposal for USTDA technical assistance to review best international practice in transit agreements was a good one. Azerbaijan wants the transit agreement with Turkey to be based on best international practice, not to “invent something new.” He encouraged the U.S. to consider the technical assistance.
Turkmenistan and Trans-Caspian Gas
7. (C) Aliyev pointed to Turkmen President Berdimuhamedov’s statement that he would “sell gas to Europe at Turkmenistan’s border,” adding, however, that he had failed to specify which border he was referring to -- that with Russia, Iran, or the Caspian Sea? Aliyev said it was his sense that Turkmenistan wants the trans-Caspian option to be implemented but “wants to hide it from Russia.” Azerbaijan, he said, has shown “maximum constructiveness -- we offered all our infrastructure; we said we’d be a purely transit country, not do like Turkey is trying to do. But we will not be more interested than they. I will not initiate a meeting with Berdimuhamedov -- it is not right to do.” Azerbaijan, he repeated, “will not initiate discussions with Turkmenistan because we do not need its gas -- we cannot be seen to want it (the trans-Caspian option) more than they do.”
8. (C) Azerbaijan has finalized its energy plan, Aliyev said. Azerbaijan supported the Krakow Summit and the proposed Odessa-Brody-Plotsk oil pipeline “even though the project is seen as anti-Russian” because Ukraine, Poland and Georgia are friendly to Azerbaijan. Aliyev said that the key is for Odessa-Brody-Plotsk to be “commercially feasible.” For this reason, he had asked Energy Minister Natiq Aliyev to prepare a concrete proposal for discussion in Vilnius. This will include Azerbaijan’s joining as a shareholder in the Sarmitia pipeline, and the launch of a feasibility study. In addition, a joint trading company for Black Sea oil will be created. With Supsa and Novorossisk, there is a great deal of Black Sea oil available, Aliyev said. The key, he repeated, is to make the Odessa-Brody-Plotsk project commercially feasible. Azerbaijan supports it “more to show political support than any urgent need” economically.
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Three-way Summit
9. (C) Aliyev said that Lithuanian PM Adamkus had told him in Vilnius last month that Kazakhstan would not attend the Vilnius Summit. He said, again with some frustration, that the idea of a 3-way Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan summit was Nazarbayev’s idea, but there has been no further progress on taking it forward to his knowledge. With the clear implication that Kazakhstan should take its idea forward, Aliyev said he still believes such a trilateral meeting “would send a good signal, strengthening our relations and could be a positive thing.”
10. (C) Comment: Aliyev was clearly frustrated and uncharacteristically sharp in discussing Turkey, Turkmenistan and especially BP, and disappointed with what he sees as Kazakhstan’s equivocation. He repeated throughout the conversation that Azerbaijan’s interest in delivering gas to Europe is strategic, driven by Azerbaijan’s desire for a deeper partnership with Europe. He also underscored, in a clear reference to Russia, that Azerbaijan “cannot be seen” to be more in the lead than others in the region on gas issues. It will be important to reassure Aliyev in Vilnius of the USG’s commitment to the southern corridor and to working closely with Azerbaijan to realize it, and to encourage him to find a productive way forward, in practical terms, with Turkey, Turkmenistan and BP. Septel will provide further insights from both BP and SOCAR on both the state of GOAJ-AIOC negotiations and Azerbaijan’s ability to provide gas to Georgia this winter. End comment.

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