The “Contract of the Century”, this agreement represented not only an economic achievement, but also a shift of political realities in the broader region, Report informs referring to political commentator at ‘Washington Examiner’ Geovanny Vicente Romero’s article.
He said that September 20 marks the 25th anniversary of a deal signed between 11 international oil companies representing seven countries and Azerbaijan.
“The Caspian Sea region, with its abundant natural resources, sparked Washington’s interest in the early 20th century. The late renowned diplomat, former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski once famously called Azerbaijan the “cork in the bottle” containing riches of the Caspian Basin and Central Asia. Sandwiched between Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan was the center of Soviet oil production. It was Azerbaijani oil that fueled Soviet tanks and supply lines during World War II stalling the Nazi advance. Since Azerbaijan supplied as much as 75% of all Soviet oil at the time, it was an existential threat.
“Numerous oil and gas fields have been discovered in the post-war years, yet the crown jewel of Azerbaijani oil riches are the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG), discovered in mid 1980s, which serve as the backbone of the Contract of the Century. Largely undeveloped, the ACG was the biggest trump card that leaders in Baku had following the collapse of the Soviet Union. With decaying production equipment and lack of technologies, Azerbaijan needed foreign investment, know-how and sophisticated technologies to develop the fields. The three-year negotiations between State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and international companies (led by BP, with the participation of four American companies) successfully concluded under the leadership of Azerbaijan’s third president, Heydar Aliyev,” the article said.
“With the support of the Clinton and Bush administrations, Baku routed its main pipeline by 2006 through Georgia to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. At the same time, Israel is perhaps one of the greatest beneficiaries of this project, as 40% of Israel’s oil is imported from Azerbaijan.
“The significance of the Contract of the Century cannot be understated. The $7.4 billion project brought billions of dollars to Azerbaijan and its partners, created thousands of jobs. Fueled by the success of the Contract of the Century, Azerbaijan invested in infrastructure, social development, security, and more advanced energy and transportation projects in subsequent years, helping to retain the region’s newfound political and economic independence. Gas exports through railway projects and the important Southern Gas Corridor will connect three natural gas pipelines of Azerbaijani gas to European markets by 2019. The Southern Gas Corridor will contribute to shifting geopolitical realities by reducing dependence of Eastern European countries on other gas supplies.
“Over the years, successive U.S. administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have underscored the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor to ensure Europe’s energy security. President Trump’s support exemplifies the Contract of the Century as an American project, unifying national and international interests of European partners. A framework for sustainable economic and political cooperation between the West and newly emerged independent states fulfills major U.S. foreign policy aims. The Contract of the Century cements these bonds for years to come,” the article said.
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