The head of Azerbaijan's state-owned oil company said on Wednesday, July 25, the row with neighboring Iran over the division of the Caspian Sea would not discourage investment by foreign oil companies.
Western oil majors were already heavily involved in developing oil and gas reserves in the Azeri sector of the Caspian and had to date invested more than $5 billion, said Natig Aliyev, President of SOCAR.
”They are not going to leave all that behind and they are not going to quit," he told journalists. An Iranian warship was involved late on Monday in a tense confrontation with an Azeri oil research ship chartered by oil multinational BP. Tehran claimed the Azeri vessel was trespassing in its waters.
The incident cast a shadow over oil development in the Caspian. BP later said it was suspending marine operations in the Alov-Sharg-Araz field, subject of the dispute with Iran, until the matter had been cleared up.
Aliyev, whose company represents the Azeri government in consortia with Western oil companies, said Tehran was trying to scare off foreign investors from the Azeri sector because it was "jealous" of Azerbaijan's success.
"Whatever happens, our strategy for (developing our) oil reserves will go ahead," he said. "Not one person, not one state, structure or force can turn it back... Azerbaijan has been developing its offshore oil reserves for 50 years now. I am sure that we will do so for another 100 years."
"Foreign companies have already taken Azerbaijan to heart as a new oil region," he said. "They know that all their investments will be protected. That is guaranteed. For that reason they are happy to work with us."
"What happened worries us as well as the companies. We haven't spoken to them about it yet, but I am sure they will propose that we hold talks (with Iran) and sort this out. Then we will get back and carry on working."
The five Caspian littoral states—Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan—have been unable to agree on how to divide up the resource-rich sea for 10 years.
Tehran wants it split into five equal parts but Russia and Azerbaijan favor dividing it into sectors corresponding to national borders -- which would give Iran a smaller slice. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )