A major deal was struck during the Second Caspian Corridor Conference held at the London Stock Exchange.
British technology company Compact GTL signed a Memorandum of Co-operation with the Republic of Kazakhstan. The deal will support the construction of the world’s first commercially deployed small-scale gas-to-liquid plant in Kazakhstan, which will convert wasted gas to valuable diesel. Up to 820,000 cubic metres of gas that might otherwise be wasted will be fed through the plant every day to produce approximately 3,000 bpd of synthetic diesel that can be used for local consumption. In a year, the plant is expected to monetise more than 300 million cubic metres of gas, thus supporting the Kazakhstan 2030 strategy, which outlines the vision for Kazakhstan’s development.
Hundreds of business leaders attended the conference on Friday, 7 March 2014, which was so packed out that many delegates sat in an overflow room. It saw ambassadors, government ministers, academics, members of the media and industry leaders in the banking, energy and infrastructure sectors share key business intelligence on the fast-growing Caspian Region.
High-profile speakers included the Minister of Energy in Azerbaijan Natiq Aliyev; the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Kazakstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan the Hon Charles Hendry MP; Vice-President of SOCAR Elshad Nassirov; the Executive Secretary, Ministry of Oil and Gas, Kazakhstan Kanatbek Safinov; the former Deputy Finance Minister of Russia Andrey Vavilov; Group Regional Vice-President for Europe, BP Peter Mather and Regional President for Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, BP Exploration (Caspian Sea) Ltd Gordon Birrell.
Areas of discussion and debate included the region’s success story, how the economies in the region are diversifying away from the traditional hydrocarbon and the natural resources sector, the urgent need to develop the finance sector and capital markets, the drive towards increasing regional economic cooperation, the impact of recent tensions in Ukraine on the region, opportunities for trade and investment and plans for a new Southern Gas Corridor, led by BP, which will bring Caspian gas to Europe, create thousands of jobs, meet 20 per cent of Europe’s gas needs, increase Europe’s energy security and bring competitiveness to Europe’s gas market.
“There is a strong appetite for working in the Caspian region,” said Xavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange. He then referred to the Southern Gas Corridor, which will bring Caspian Gas to Europe by extending the South Caucasus Pipeline through Azerbaijan and Georgia, connecting to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline across Turkey and then to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline across Greece and Albania into Italy.
An investment agreement worth approximately US$45 billion was signed for this new natural gas development last year. “There is a need for capital and funding infrastructure and our equity markets will play a pivotal role,” Rolet added.
Xavier Rolet, CEO, London Stock Exchange Group, addresses delegates at the Caspian Corridor Conference 2014
The Caspian Corridor Region has a population of approximately 80 million and growth rates are expected to be sustained at six per cent this year making it very attractive to international investors.
Hendry pointed out that British companies BP, Shell and BG had their origins in countries around the Caspian Region and that Dragon Oil is one of the largest foreign investors in Turkmenistan.
“The Caspian region is presently one of the most exciting places in the world to do business and yet many people can’t place Kazakhstan on a map even though it’s bigger than Europe. The UK has a long history of working with the Caspian Region. Three quarters of cars on British roads 100 years ago were powered by fuel from Azerbaijan,” he said.
“Last year we took the British Prime Minister to Kazakhstan and it was the first time a British Prime Minister had been there since the country gained independence (from the former Soviet Union),” Hendry said. “He was two hours late for his meeting but the President said ‘We have waited 20 years for this so don’t worry.’ William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, made his first visit Azerbaijan last year and we hope to have the first visit by the Turkmenistan prime minister to the UK in coming weeks,” he added.
The Conference also offered an opportunity for key figures from the UK and the Caspian Region to network and forge valuable relationships.
The 2014 Caspian Corridor Conference built on the success of the first Caspian Corridor summit at Lancaster House in London in 2012.
It was sponsored by the International Bank of Azerbaijan and supported by Asia House, the London Stock Exchange, the Britain Azerbaijan Business Council and TheCityUK.
To read about how the Southern Gas Corridor will revolutionise the energy market click here.