We are a Proud Partner in Azerbaijan’s Two World Class Offshore Fields in the Caspian Sea
Exclusive interview with Helge Lund of Statoil President and CEO
By Rovshan Pashzadeh
AT: Mr. Helge Lund, in June this year HRH Crown Prince Haakon visited Azerbaijan and was received by President Ilham Aliyev. What is your assessment of the meeting for the development of the mutual relations between the two countries?
We were pleased about the meeting between President Aliyev and HRH the Crown Prince of Norway in Azerbaijan in June. Statoil’s Chairman Svein Rennemo met with the President as part of the business delegation of HRH the Crown Prince, and was very grateful for the warm welcome he and the entire delegation received in Baku.
During the visit, Mr. Rennemo was updated on the progress for Azerbaijan in key areas, including on our close corporation through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), where Azerbaijan makes important contributions.
When I met with President Aliyev at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January this year, I conveyed Statoil’s commitment to our engagement in Azerbaijan and underlined Azerbaijan’s importance in our international portfolio.
AT::After Azerbaijan gained independence, people in our country started to learn about Norway thanks to Statoil. Statoil’s first initiations were also very successful in Azerbaijan: it entered two huge projects, Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli and Shah Deniz. Where did the wishes of coming to Azerbaijan, participating in the projects here and strengthening interests in the Caspian area originated in the minds of the Statoil management 20 years ago? How were you so sure to agree taking such risks?
Thank you for your kind words. We are a proud partner in Azerbaijan’s two world class offshore fields in the Caspian Sea. Statoil was taking its first step toward internationalization in the early 1990s and the Caspian basin had interested our geologists for many years. When Azerbaijan welcomed foreign oil companies to the country, we were able to enter through our alliance with BP. We are happy with having made this move. Azerbaijan and the Caspian have in a remarkably short period of time established themselves as one of the world’s leading oil and gas provinces.
AT: As I mentioned above, Statoil has already managed to achieve everything needed for a company in Azerbaijan: Does not working in Azerbaijan seem somewhat “boring” after all these years?
On the contrary, we find ourselves now in the middle of one the most exciting times of Azerbaijan’s recent oil and gas history. Together with SOCAR, the operator BP and other partners, we are preparing the Shah Deniz Stage Two project towards investment decision. This project will triple output from Shah Deniz and establish Azerbaijan as a supplier of gas to Europe, opening the so-called Southern Corridor.
Shah Deniz Stage Two is one of the world’s largest offshore gas and condensate projects and offers ample technical challenges as the first subsea development in the deep water Caspian. As the world’s largest offshore operator, Statoil will contribute actively to the development of the project by sharing our extensive experience within subsea developments and operations.
In addition, the Shah Deniz Stage Two project will require new infrastructure to transport new gas to markets. The commercial and political interest the project is considerable, drawing attention from all over the world to Azerbaijan.
We must also not forget that very large investments and technological efforts are being made at ACG in order to maintain the production on this huge field, crucial to Azerbaijan as an oil nation and to all of the involved companies. This is no small task. Furthermore, we are keen on pursuing other opportunities that fit our strategic priorities and those of SOCAR, to ensure that we build on the solid basis we have achieved in order to further expand our activities in Azerbaijan.
AT: It has been known that, Statoil’s office in Baku oversees the projects in the Caspian region, too. What plans do you have regarding the Caspian region in the near future? Would you share them with our readers?
As an oil and gas company with an ambition for international growth, Statoil is always on the look-out for new opportunities, We believe that our long standing experience in this region in cooperation with national and international partners, as well as our technical competence in key areas such as subsea and gas value chains, will earn us a role in future developments in Azerbaijan.