“President Ilham Aliyev was the first world leader to call on OPEC and non-OPEC countries to work together in rescuing the oil industry in 2014-2016 market downturn. President Aliyev continues to be the strong supporter of OPEC and non-OPEC cooperation”. The statement came from OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo during the "High-Level Webinar on Energy Issues in post-COVID-19 World" webinar, organized by the Center of Analysis of International Relations. “In the hour of adversity, be not without hope; for crystal rain falls from black clouds” he said, referring to the great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi in relation to the current pandemic facing the world. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo mentioned that Azerbaijan has historically made a great contribution to the oil industry and that the development of the oil industry began in Baku. He noted the meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group of OPEC and non-OPEC ministers in Azerbaijan in March last year, adding that this meeting was a very important one for the Declaration of Cooperation. The OPEC Secretary General also expressed satisfaction with Azerbaijan's membership in the Declaration of Cooperation: “I thank Azerbaijan for its high-level support and commitment to this declaration. I am also proud to see Azerbaijan as a member of the OPEC family”. M. S. Barkindo thanked the Center for Analysis of International Relations for organizing the event and expressed hope that such discussions with the Center will continue in the future.
The moderator of the event, the Chairman of AIR center Farid Shafiyev, said that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant decline in economic activity in the world, which affected energy demand. According to Farid Shafiyev, international cooperation is extremely important during this crisis, and Azerbaijan is one of the most important partners for OPEC +.
In his speech, Minister of Energy Parviz Shahbazov stated that the pandemic has created great difficulties in the energy sector, adding that the world community is interested in the future of energy. According to him, the oil market has also faced a number of problems during the pandemic, which shows the importance of the future role of the OPEC + initiative. According to the Minister, the energy forecasts for 2020 are not encouraging: “The investment deficit in the energy sector is expected to fall by $ 400 billion and costs by 30 percent. All this has put us in a difficult situation. OPEC + will only be effective by strengthening and expanding. As Azerbaijan, we support expansion”.
Parviz Shahbazov added that Azerbaijan has fulfilled its obligations under the Declaration of Cooperation by 98 percent, and plans to compensate the other 2 percent by reducing oil production by about 2,500 barrels next month.
The next speaker, Bakhtiyar Aslanbeyli, BP's Vice President for External Relations and Strategy in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, said that the oil and gas sector is currently operating in a survival mode. According to him, despite the crisis, BP will continue to implement its projects in Azerbaijan at a high level: “Our goal is to sustain our business [in Azerbaijan] for at least the next 30 years”.
Brenda Shaffer, a professor at Georgetown University in the United States, said that unlike oil, natural gas has managed to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. According to her, during this period, the demand for gas has increased and natural gas has become a friend of renewable energy sources. Brenda Shaffer added that the prospects for imports are still high.
Robert Cutler, Director of NATO's Energy Security Program in Canada, said that the Trans-Caspian pipeline in the South Caucasus region will once again find its place in the international economic agenda and will become the most important project for the region.
The event continued with a question and answer session.