5 June 2014, 5 - 8 PM CET
TUSIAD Avenue des Gaulois, 13, Brussels 1040
Here in Europe, many of us view Azerbaijan as a potentially vital partner for our energy consumers — a source of diversification of vital gas supplies to the continent in circumvention of the Russian monopoly. Indeed, this may well be the case looking forward, taking into account that Baku and its international partners appear to be going "full steam ahead" with the development of the giant Shah Deniz II gas deposit. Headway is also being made on the Turkish-Azerbaijani TANAP gas pipeline project. The future delivery of 10 bcm of Caspian gas via this corridor to Europe is just about being presented as a foregone conclusion in the international media.
But how much do we really know of Azerbaijan's energy strategy and how likely is it that such mega-projects will come to fruition? While Baku is making "all the right noises" in view of energy diplomacy, is it all likely to be smooth sailing in terms of our aspirations to see the Southern Gas Corridor fully realized? Azerbaijan today remains a complex country with complex ddecision-making processes, which often tie into regional geopolitical as well as geo-economic equations. From a Brussels eye view, it may appear that Baku is committed to its side of the Southern Corridor partnership. This may well be the case. That being said, the specificities of Azerbaijan's relations with Turkey may yet have a bearing on EU efforts to diversify its gas supplies. Furthermore, the peculiarities of Azerbaijan's relations with its former-Soviet neighbors, including the likes of Russia, Armenia, Georgia, and Turkmenistan should likewise not be ignored. Finally, a healthy flow of Caspian gas supplies to Europe is predicated on stability in Azerbaijan itself, at least into the mid-term. Given current developments in Ukraine, and the possible implications for EU energy security, can we take anything for granted, anymore?
In order to help us come to grips with these issues, we invited Elkhan Nuriyev to visit us from Baku and address the Brussels Energy Club on Thursday, June 5. In particular, we asked Dr. Nuriyev to brief us on the true viability of Caspian gas as an alternative source of supply for the EU, taking into account many of the challenges noted above. Whilst offering an insider's perspective and speaking off the record, Dr. Nuriyev tackled the complexities of Azerbaijan's energy relations with its neighboring countries and provided a firm outlook for the likelihood of seeing newfound Caspian energy supplies reaching Europe. It is quite rare that we had the opportunity for an in-depth exploration of Azerbaijan's energy strategy with a highly qualified speaker from the country, so this BREC session was not to be missed.
Arrival of members and guests leading into welcome cocktail
Welcoming remarks and setting out the debate by Dr Marat Terterov, Executive Director, Brussels Energy Club
Presentation by Dr Elkhan Nuriyev
Reflections and remarks by members and guests of the Brussels Energy Club, leading into Q/A session (NB: all discussions during the session will take place under the Chatham House Rule).
Buffet supper reception and networking opportunities with the speaker
Former-Strategic Adviser to the President of Azerbaijan and Founding Director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of Azerbaijan, Baku