The International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference, the largest energy event in the Caspian region, marks its 25th anniversary this year. Let's look back and remind ourselves where it all began and what we have achieved so far.
The history of Caspian Oil & Gas began in 1994 just before the “Contract of the Century” was signed in September of that year, an agreement which defined the main development areas for the Caspian Basin’s hydrocarbon resources. This contract opened a new chapter in the history of oil in the country. The idea of organising Azerbaijan’s first exhibition dedicated to oil and gas was supported at the time by Heydar Aliyev, the country’s National Leader, and since then Caspian Oil & Gas has been a meeting place for leading oil, gas and energy professionals – a place where memoranda, agreements and contracts for future cooperation are signed.
The exhibition and conference was a real success on its first days; the event brought together 158 major oil and energy companies from 12 countries at the Heydar Aliyev Sports and Concert Complex. The event counts leading global oil, gas and energy companies such as BP, OMV, Conoco Phillips, Statoil, Total, Petkim, TPAO and RWE among its exhibitors and sponsors. It offers Azerbaijan’s oil and gas companies a wide range of opportunities to work with international companies and introduce new technologies to domestic production and hydrocarbon extraction.
The high status of the exhibition was supported by the participation at the opening ceremony of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, and now this tradition continues by President Ilham Aliyev. Among the national leaders to send welcome letters for the opening of the exhibition each year are the Prime Ministers of the UK, Turkey and Norway, and the Presidents of the USA, France, Georgia, and the European Union. SOCAR, the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan, also makes an invaluable contribution to the development of the exhibition. The Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) both show invaluable support for Caspian Oil & Gas.
An important part of the event’s business programme is the Caspian Oil & Gas international conference, which over 500 delegates from more than 30 countries take part in every year. Over the past 25 years, this conference has become the main platform for discussing Azerbaijan’s rich hydrocarbon and transit potential, its appeal to foreign investors, and opportunities for business cooperation.
The infrastructure was not good enough at the time of the 1st Caspian Oil & Gas exhibition; we had to import all exhibition equipment from abroad. There was no Internet, mobile communication was in its infancy, and communication with customers was possible through fax machines only. Sketch for the first exhibitions would be drawn on paper, which is completely impossible to imagine now. However, Azerbaijani market grew at a rapid pace, and so did the exhibition – it started to develop, keeping pace with the growth of local market. Over the years, the exhibition has established itself as a key event in the oil and gas industry of the region, which is now attended by the key players of the oil and gas market.
A Daily News publication for the event has been produced since 2005, with each edition an event in itself for exhibitors and visitors. It chronicles the history of the exhibition itself and of the companies and people to have taken part in the oil and gas development of Azerbaijan and the entire Caspian Region.
In 2006, Caspian Oil & Gas was the first oil and gas exhibition in Azerbaijan to receive UFI ‘Approved Event’ status.
In 2010, Baku Expo Exhibition & Convention Centre was selected as a new venue for all future Caspian Oil & Gas exhibitions. Until then, the exhibition was hosted at the Heydar Aliyev Sport and Exhibition Complex which was a warm and cosy home for exhibitors for a quite long period of time.
Thus, Caspian Oil & Gas has been through a long development, and due to its uniqueness, has remained as the leading event throughout these 25 years. Every anniversary of the exhibition and conference is accompanied by special events which can be identified as the Caspian Oil & Gas Fund. This Fund has always had a clear social focus; during various special anniversaries Caspian Oil & Gas was encouraging students who entered local universities with high admission scores, the exhibition and conference participants planted trees and flowers, and Caspian Oil & Gas also supported art: it sponsored the show of the legendary ballet "Caspian Ballad" by composer Tofig Bakikhanov and organised an exhibition of paintings drawn with oil by the painter Sabir Chopuroglu.
Another significant date which coincides with the Anniversary Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference is the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Independent Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (on the 28th of May 1918, Azerbaijan declared its independence and established the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, ADR); this momentous event will be part of the exhibition programme.
The anniversary of the exhibition will also include various programmes, contests in social networks and the shooting of special video footages. Exhibition and conference participants can hope for a lot of exciting things to happen throughout the event.
Today Caspian Oil & Gas is a well-deserved recognition of the triumph of Azerbaijan’s Oil Strategy which was founded by the National Leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and is successfully pursued by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The organisers are confident that the exhibition, which has now crossed the 25-year threshold, will remain the calling card of the achievements in the regions’ oil sector and will continue to serve as an ideal platform for establishing business ties, while providing new opportunities for mutual cooperation.