Azerbaijan’s oil corporation to bid for Petkim shares

Azerbaijan’s oil corporation to bid for Petkim shares

ANKARA-Hürriyet Daily News
Azerbaijan’s oil corporation to bid for Petkim shares

Turkish and Azerbaijani flags wave in front of Petkim’s Aliağa facility in the Aegean province of İzmir. The two countries agreed in October 2011 to jointly develop the facility. AA photo

Azerbaijan’s state company which has the majority stake at the Petkim refinery, will bid to purchase another 10 percent of state shares in the coming days to fully control Turkey’s largest oil facility, the Azeri ambassador told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The total investment Azeri companies have made in Turkey has already exceeded $10 billion. Socar is also interested in bidding for natural gas distribution tenders in Ankara and Istanbul, as well as in establishing oil stations in the entire country,” Ambassador Faik Bagirov said in an interview last week.

For Bagirov, this stands as an important indication of a perfect and unique relationship between the two countries which have already realized a complex network for the transportation of rich Azeri oil and natural gas resources to the world markets.

Turkey has announced the deadline as March 20 for final bids to buy state’s 10.3 percent stake in local chemicals producers Petkim Petrokimya Holding, whose 51 percent has already been privatized to the Azerbaijan’s Socar state company.

According to the tender specifications, bids will be received by closed envelope, and bidders will be required to provide a $3 million temporary down payment.

“These are very good steps,” Bagirov said, recalling a recent agreement between the two countries for transporting 10 billion cubic-meters of natural gas to European markets by 2017 through the Trans Anatolian Pipeline project. The ambassador said the feasibility study of the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year and the next phases of the construction will be decided.

“As you know, 80 percent of the cost of the project has been undertaken by Azerbaijan,” he said, adding that the project was crucially important to place Turkey as the main route for European consumers.”

Diversification is important

However, while Turkey is making cooperation with Azerbaijan to transport Caspian natural gas to European markets, it also allows Russia to use Turkey’s territorial waters to pass its Southern Stream pipeline which will carry Russian gas to the same market. For many, Turkey’s gesture to Russia would undermine its role as a transit country as the European Union-backed Nabucco project was almost dead.

“Diversification is very important in the transportation of energy resources to the world markets,” Bagirov said. “This is equally important for both source and consuming countries. As the energy security has become one of the most important issues, each and every country sees it as a national security matter.”

In addition to the security aspect, Bagirov also said the realization of energy project is very much dependent on to what extent it will be economic and profitable.

Nabucco EU’s fault

“Time will show us which project will have more of a chance. Whichever project will bring more profit, there is no doubt investors will work for it,” he said.

Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline was successfully carrying Azeri oil to world markets as part of Baku’s policy in transporting all of its energy resources via Turkey, Bagirov said. “Don’t forget that this policy exists since the early 1990s and is not something new.”

But the Nabucco project, which envisaged carrying 31 billion cubic-meters of natural gas from Caspian and Middle East countries to Europe via Turkey to end Russian dominance in the European markets, seems to remain shelved for some more time. Azerbaijan was criticized for not pledging gas to this project.

“Azerbaijan is an exporter. Our goal is to sell our resources to world markets. We don’t have the luxury to turn our back on projects like Nabucco. But its capacity is 31 billion cubic-meters and we don’t have that amount of gas. We have told Europeans to find additional gas and in that case we would do our part,” he said, adding that project owners failed to make the right calculations from the outset.

The ambassador also said Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan were very close to making an agreement on how to share the Caspian Sea, a problem that blocked Turkmenistan’s exports of its rich natural gas resources to world markets.