Azerbaijani Politics 15 january — 14:27

Ilham Aliyev: 'Mehriban Aliyeva was cooking for me and Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh in Houston'

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'Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh and I have known each other for 25 years. In all periods we had very close, sincere friendship. In the summer of 1994, we participated in the final negotiation process for the preparation of the Contract of the Century. We’ve been in the American city of Houston for more than a month.' President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said this at a ceremony on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the prominent oil scientist, First Vice-President of SOCAR Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh.

Ilham Aliyev noted that then the negotiations had been very tense, there had been many problems.

'Each of the parties wanted to achieve favourable conditions for themselves. I believe that following the results of the negotiations, we reached a profitable compromise and achieved the best conditions for Azerbaijan. These conditions are reflected today in the distribution of shares. Today, Azerbaijan receives 75-80% of profitable oil. And this is despite the fact that Azerbaijan did not invest in the development of the field. Then we added such a clause to the agreement that, over time, at least 90% of the people working there should be Azerbaijani citizens. And we achieved this. This means training. Today, well-trained personnel work in our country and in different countries. Therefore, the unforgettable Houston stage, of course, was very important. Because less than a month after our return, the contract was signed and thus a new page of our development was opened. Then we were like one family. Remember, we stayed at the Apart Hotel, and there was a kitchen? To put it mildly, we were tired of the food served at the hotel. Therefore, we asked Mehriban Aliyeva to prepare food for us. These were unforgettable days, and we always remember them,' said Ilham Aliyev said.

Ilham Aliyev noted that they, together with Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh, had been working for the State Oil Company.

'We had a joint room for receptions, and we met every day. I learned a lot thanks to Hoshbacht Yusifzadeh. Even during my work at the oil company and later on I was repeatedly convinced of the knowledge of Hoshbacht Yusifzadeh. I also want to say that Heydar Aliyev really trusted Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh and his word. That is, his word was considered absolute truth, and this was confirmed in many cases. I remember that in 1997, after signing the contract for the Absheron field, seismic work was carried out and a place for an exploratory well was determined.

Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh then told foreign partners that they had mistakenly chosen a location for the well: there would be no reserves there. They did not listen, because they had seismic equipment, specialists, thousands of workers, multibillion-dollar trade and a capitalisation of tens of billions of dollars. And here one geologist says something. They did not attach importance to his words and then regretted it: they drilled the well that turned out to be empty. So the contract was terminated and they were forced to leave this field and Azerbaijan. However, a few years later another company became interested in the Absheron field. The contract was re-signed, the right place for the exploration well was selected and large reserves were discovered,' said Ilham Aliyev.

The head of state noted that back in the 1990s, Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh had said that the Absheron field had at least 300 billion cubic metres of gas.

'I don’t know how he knew this. But life has confirmed that he was right. A foreign company came to the same conclusion, and we will receive the first 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas from this field either at the end of this year or next year. This is an indicator in itself. In the words of Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh, he knows the Caspian Sea far and wide. Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh also has very great achievements in determining the legal status of the Caspian Sea. He participated in all high-level meetings, and his word at these events was perceived as absolute truth. Two years ago, the legal status of the Caspian Sea was determined, an agreement was reached. However, until that time there was a lot of controversy, and the presence of Hoshbakht Yusifzadeh in our delegation always strengthened our position,' said the president.

Ilham Aliyev also touched on the issue related to the development of the Shahdeniz field.

'In 1996, all negotiations were completed, and a contract was to be signed. However, one of our officials protested, saying that the contract should not be signed. He had no justification, this man had no idea about the oil and gas industry. He simply filled his pockets, selling abroad the oil extracted by oil workers, as well as petroleum products. But, having no reason, he sharply protested against the signing of the contract. Then Heydar Aliyev invited the entire leadership of the State Oil Company and gave the floor to everyone. Speaking, each of them noted that this contract must be signed and that its conditions were the most favourable for us. Including Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh. I remember that Heydar Aliyev listened very carefully to the word of Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh. The general opinion and opinion of Hoshbacht Yusifzadeh was such that the contract must be signed. Now imagine: if the contract on Shah Deniz wasn't signed in 1996, then there would be neither Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, nor TANAP, nor the Southern Gas Corridor. In what condition would Azerbaijan’s gas supply be? If there was no gas from Shah Deniz, we would not be able to meet our needs. How much capital was invested there, and today Azerbaijan has turned into a gas exporting country in Eurasia and on a global scale,' said Ilham Aliyev.

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