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Tuesday, 16 June 2015 13:00

“We have laid foundation stone for firm strategic cooperation” – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iraq to Azerbaijan Haydar Shia Al-Barrak Featured

Caspian Energy (CE): Your Excellency, how would you assess the development of bilateral economic relations? Which areas of the economy are the most promising for cooperation? 

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iraq to Azerbaijan: Iraq and Azerbaijan have established a high level economic cooperation which keeps developing rapidly. Let me mention exact figures. The rate of the goods turnover between Azerbaijan and Iraq used to total only $1 mln in 2009. Owing to our work and efforts this indicator reached $400 mln in 2012 and remained on the same level through 2013. The goods turnover reached $354 mln in 2014. We expect the growth of this indicator in 2015. Major importance is certainly attached to the oil-gas sphere. In this regard we consider the visit, made by Minister of Oil of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi to Azerbaijan, a little belated. We should have started establishing strategic oil-gas partnership with Azerbaijan already a few years ago. But as the proverb says “it is better late than never”.

By signing the memorandum between the Ministry of Oil of Iraq and Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan, we have laid a foundation stone for firm strategic cooperation in the oil sector. Apart from this, Iraq and Azerbaijan reached an agreement about development of cooperation in gas sector, development of the human resources potential and other areas. Within the framework of Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s visit we visited the Sangachal oil-gas terminal which made an unforgettable impression on the minister. It is noteworthy that the visit paid by the minister at least opened prospects of development of bilateral relations and he witnessed Azerbaijan’s potential in oil-gas production with his own eyes.

 

 

CE: Does Iraq plan to join in the TANAP project within the framework of the Southern Gas Corridor?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: I may say that there were negotiations both on Iraq’s participation in TANAP project and upstream, downstream and midstream projects. Besides, discussed at the negotiations was a possibility of linking Caspian and Mediterranean regions with the Arab Gulf countries through Iraq. It is going to be a large-scale project linking these three regions to one another. Moreover, this cooperation will not be based on oil and gas only since we plan to link this region by means of the railroad and motor transport. As you know, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars is a kind of railroad communication. All parties should think of joining Baku-Tbilisi-Kars with Arabian Gulf through Iraq.

Therefore we signed several memoranda, but the memorandum that has been recently signed with Azerbaijan plays a key role. If it works, then the goods turnover will rise to millions or even billions of dollars. 

 

 

CE: When is the work on this project planned to start exactly?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: I think we will start this work right away.

 

CE: You are planning to build a gas pipeline from Iraq to Turkey. Addressing the Caspian Oil & Gas conference in Baku, the representative of the Turkish Company BOTAS has recently presented a project on construction of the gas pipeline from Iraq to Turkey…

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: I think the major goal of this memorandum is the gas sphere. Iraq has huge gas reserves. As you know, Iraq is the second oil producing and exporting country following Saudi Arabia.

Iraq expresses interest in the TANAP project. This line is of big significance to Iraq, Turkey and Europe. No matter how big are the volumes to be transported along this pipeline, the European market will be able to adopt these volumes. Iraq’s participation can certainly have a positive impact on the project development. The more gas Iraq can pump into this pipeline, the better it will be for the project. 

 

 

CE: Do you plan to supply gas to Europe via TANAP and TAP? Does Iraq have plans to become one of shareholders of the TANAP project?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: Iraq intends to supply gas for TANAP and further to Europe via TAP. The negotiations about the second issue have been conducted as well. When and how Iraq shall join these projects, whether it will be a new pipeline, etc., all these are technical aspects.

 

CE: Which factors hinder and help the implementation of this big project?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: A strong desire of the parties is the first factor that helps in this issue. Noteworthy is also the importance and operation of the diplomatic representation of Azerbaijan in Bagdad and of course the favorable situation in the field of security. Besides, it is also geopolitical, geographic and geological factors influencing the implementation of the project. All of these factors are of big significance but we try to cooperate with the countries possessing an experience of export of natural resources to foreign countries.

 

 

CE: Are there any high level visits planned for near future?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: The President of Azerbaijan, whose invitation was accepted, has invited Iraq’s Prime Minister to visit Azerbaijan. The exact dates of this visit will be determined by means of the diplomatic channels.

During the meeting held with Minister of Iraq, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev also received an invitation to visit Iraq.

 

 

CE: To what degree is Iraq concerned about the present situation in the oil market including low prices for oil?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: I am not a specialist in this area, but our experts assume that $75-80 per barrel is quite a good price for buyers and sellers.

 

CE: Is there a possibility of the flow of Azerbaijani investments into the Iraqi economy? Has such possibility been considered?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: Azerbaijan is supplying canned goods, sugar, butter and other products to Iraq. Apart from this, Azerbaijan is exporting many plastic goods and spare parts for heavy engineering.

Concerning oil-gas industry, as far as I know no such cooperation used to be practiced before. I assume further actions will be determined following the outcomes of the recent visit of Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

But I know that President of SOCAR Rovnag Abdullayev visited Iraq about three months ago and held a number of meetings. At the meeting with the Minister of Oil of Iraq, R.Abdullayev invited him to visit Azerbaijan whereafter Adil Abdul-Mahdi accepted this invitation and came here. It is certainly just the beginning of development of the bilateral relations.

 

CE: Does SOCAR plan to take part in oil-gas tenders for development of oil-gas fields?

Haydar Shia Al-Barrak: Every year Iraq announces tenders for Iraqi fields. SOCAR in its turn carrying out an activity in Iraq, well-known in the region and has representative offices in many countries. I would like to add that the latest visit of the Iraqi Oil Minister was the result of fruitful cooperation between Iraq and Azerbaijan in the oil-gas sphere. I am very optimistic about the development of further relations as well.

 

 

 Thank you for the interview

 

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