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Friday, 20 November 2015 20:00

Spain’s presence will expand as Azerbaijan economy is diversified - Jose Luis Díez Featured

Caspian Energy (CE): How would you assess trade-economic and investment cooperation between Spain and Azerbaijan?

Jose Luis Díez, Charge d’Affaires of Spain to Azerbaijan: There is a certain improvement. In recent years exports from Spain to Azerbaijan have stabilized in the range of 80 mln euros. Spain mainly exports construction materials, furniture, equipment and a certain volume of food related products to Azerbaijan, while imports from Azerbaijan are basically related to energy products. However, this energy products imports vary according the year of reference. Hence, last year Spain imported a total of 700mln, which represents a higher figure compared to previous years.

On the other hand, as Spanish companies have been showing interest in joint ventures and infrastructure development projects in Azerbaijan, we hope the trade figures between our countries will increase. 

 

CE: Does Spain purchase Azerbaijani oil?

Jose Luis Díez: Yes, but due to our geographic location, Azerbaijan is not among our major suppliers. The volume of imported oil varies and has reached 100mln in 2013 but almost 700mln last year. However further economic cooperation will be rather focused on the non-oil sector. 

 

CE: Is Spain more inclined to develop cooperation in the non-oil sector?

Jose Luis Díez: Diversification of the economy has been of particular importance to the government of Azerbaijan for the last years. The oil price decline has attached broader significance to this issue. Spain could expand its cooperation with Azerbaijan not only in sectors such as agricultural and tourism, but also in terms of renewable energy as well as infrastructure and transportation domains. 

 

CE: What size of mutual investments is of interest to Spain?

Jose Luis Díez:Current negotiations are taking place in terms of Spanish direct invest in Azerbaijan, hence the invest process is at an early stage. Nevertheless, Spanish investors are already involved in projects related to Azerbaijan, for instance Enagás has purchased 16% of TAP, an Azerbaijani-European project, and the Spanish engineering company Técnicas Reunidas is working with SOCAR for the Start refinery in Turkey.

 

CE: Does Spain find it possible to extend TAP till Spain?

Jose Luis Díez: The finalpoint of the pipeline is located in Italy from where it will be linked to the European network; the whole Western Europe is interconnected. Once it reaches Italy, from there it will be linked to Spain through France. There are two interconnectors linking Spain and France. There is also a project proposed by the Spanish government and considered by the EU to construct a third interconnector laid through Catalonia in the eastern part of Spain, which will expand the connection with the rest of Europe.

 

CE: Does Spain have extensive plans for Caspian gas or the current diversification level is enough?

Jose Luis Díez: Gas sector in Spain has been considerably diversified, Spainhas 11 suppliers. We receive gas from such countries as Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, Norway and other countries. In terms of supplies Spain is one of the most diversified countries. Moreover, it is one of the strongest countries in the field of LNG. We have 7 regasification plants. It means the biggest LNG infrastructure in Europe. Almost half of gas consumed in Spain falls to the share of LNG supplied to us from Norway, Nigeria or Qatar.

The volume of gas imported by means of pipelines has grown for the last two years and today is a little higher than the LNG supplied by vessels, but two years ago we used to receive more LNG than natural gas. Nowadays we have slightly increased the volumes of pipeline gas as we have two operating gas pipelines laid from Algeria.

 

CE: Considering low oil prices, is the pipeline gas more beneficial for Spain than LNG?

Jose Luis Díez: Natural gas should be cheaper than LNG, but that is not always the case. We are getting more natural gas through pipelines, but at present it is difficult to establish prices for gas because sometimes gas prices are tied to oil prices and not to the cost of production and transportation.

 

CE: Is it planned to develop cooperation in the field of alternative energy because Spain is a land of sun just like Azerbaijan…

Jose Luis Díez: It is one of the spheres in which the government of Azerbaijan wishes to implement further development. You have operating experimental facilities generating solar and wind energy. Spain has a certain experience that can be useful for future projects in the area of renewable energies.

 

CE: What could you say about the field of tourism? What has been the flow of tourists this year? Has it increased in comparison with the previous year?

Jose Luis Díez: Spain has been one of the leading countries within the tourist sector for decades, and the number of visitors increases year after year. A new record will most certainly be reached at the end of 2015. The latest figures, published last August, registered a 4% growth – up to 68 mln, in a country of a population of  46.5mln. The major flow of tourists is coming from Great Britain, France and Germany. But we have recently registered a big flow from Asia and USA.

 

 

CE: The issue of migrants is very topical in Europe now. What would you say about economic aspects of the situation with migrants for Spain?

Jose Luis Díez: Spain was a country of emigrants for quite a long period. After the civil war in Spain and the Second World War, flows of Spanish migrants settled in Germany, Switzerland and France. This process slowed down in the 1970s due to the improvement of the economic internal situation in Spain. The process inverted from the late 1980’s and Spain received more immigrants than any other European country. Spain with a total population of almost 47 million, currently has a total of 6 million immigrants which represents a 13% of the population, comparable to the levels of the USA and above the levels of most European countries.

The immigration flows were related to economic expansion in the country for several years until 2008 and migrant workers were part of this economic success.

 

CE: Mr.Diez, what has been your major achievement as Charge d’Affaires of Spain to Azerbaijan?

Jose Luis Díez: 

Our presence in the country is quite recent; I arrived as first Chargé d’Affaires last year. During the past 18 months we have managed to accomplish a variety of activities including the organization of a business forum, in which 20 Spanish companies took part, among them were Técnicas Reunidas andTalgo which showed interest in the Azerbaijani railways. Also ENAGAS that, as I mentioned, acquired 16% of the Trans-Adriatic pipeline a few months afterwards.

We also took part in Baku-Build exhibition. Additionally, we have organized a variety of concerts, hold other cultural and culinary events. During 2016 we expect to organize additional business forums and we will keep supporting Spanish companies in establishing contacts with local companies. 

 

                                                                                                                                                               Thank you for the interview

 

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