Your Excellency President Aliyev,
Distinguished participants to the Baku Energy Week 2023,
On behalf of the European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and on my own behalf, I would like to thank you for your renewed invitation to the Baku energy week, a very important event for us.
President Ursula von der Leyen travelled to Baku the last July to sign a strategic partnership in the field of energy between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the EU.
Commissioner Simson came again in February for the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council and the Green Energy Advisory Council; and Minister Parviz Shahbazov visited us in Brussels earlier this month for our EU-Azerbaijan high level energy dialogue.
Gas started flowing from Azerbaijan to Europe through the Southern Gas Corridor in 2020 and Azerbaijan has become a key trusted and reliable energy partner for the EU.
Early last year, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and its weaponization of energy trade has upended the fundamentals of our energy market and caused a tremendous shift in Europe’s energy system.
In the past year we have adopted several measures to tackle the energy crisis. Among others we turned compulsory the filling of our gas storages, we included voluntary demand reduction of gas consumption and we proceeded for the first time ever to joint purchase of gas. We have also diversified our gas suppliers, replacing more than 70 billion cubic meters of Russian gas.
In the challenging times we are experiencing, Azerbaijan increased its gas supplies to the EU market by 40% last year. This has been paramount to avoid the worst of the energy crisis and diversify away from Russian fuels.
In this sense we welcome the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor in view of doubling our gas trade by 2027. We are developing our infrastructure within the EU to make sure this gas can reach its end users.
But our bilateral work is not just about crisis management. It is about charting a path towards our economies of the future, starting with the project of a green energy corridor between the South Caucasus and the European Union.
In this respect, President von der Leyen join the event when the Leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Hungary adopted the Green Energy Partnership Memorandum in Bucharest last December, including the initiative to build an electricity cable under the Black Sea.
The Black Sea cable initiative was recognised as a flagship project under the EU Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Neighbourhood and under the EU Global Gateway strategy.
There is enormous potential, a good spirit of cooperation, and high interest from all sides to demonstrate that it is feasible and to make it a reality.
It is an important signal that you organised for the first time in February this year a Green Energy Advisory Council, in addition to the 9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council.
We are committed to enhance our energy security on both sides, unleash renewable energy investment, and promote trade across our markets over the long term.
We welcome the new electricity law adopted in Azerbaijan. On our side, EU legislators recently completed negotiations over new energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, including more ambitious 2030 targets. In the last meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy, President von der Leyen proposed to set global targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai in November.
In the EU we are working to make it happen and we count on Azerbaijan for this purpose.
Ahead of COP28 we are also planning to work on methane. Avoiding methane loss is good against climate change and it increases gas volumes available for domestic and international markets. There is more and more awareness of this issue worldwide. As our regulatory frameworks evolve towards more transparency on methane emissions associated with gas imports, we stand ready to work together on this important issue.
In conclusion, your Excellency, Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, we see our long-term energy partnership with Azerbaijan as a key contribution to both our strategic energy resilience and our renewable energy ambition.
We look forward to working together with Azerbaijan and other international partners to accelerate our energy transition, to strengthen our industrial bases, and to put our economies on a path towards climate neutrality by 2050.
Thank you again for your invitation, and let us all have a very productive Baku Energy Week!