Azerbaijan, as host of Cop29, plans to increase its gas production by 33% in the next 10 years.
According to an analysis shared exclusively with the Guardian, Azerbaijan, the host of this year’s UN climate talks, intends to boost its fossil fuel production by 33% in the next ten years.
According to the projection, the host of Cop29 will experience a 12bn cubic metre increase in their yearly gas output within the next decade. This time frame is crucial for world leaders to reduce fossil fuel production in order to address global warming.
According to information gathered by the organization Global Witness from analysts at Rystad Energy, Azerbaijan possesses one of the biggest natural gas reserves in the world, known as Shah Deniz, located in the Caspian Sea. It is estimated that the country will extract 411 billion cubic meters of gas in the next decade, resulting in the emission of 781 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is more than double the amount of carbon emissions produced by the United Kingdom in a year.
The data is derived from evaluating the existing gas production in Azerbaijan, as well as the reserves that have been approved for future development and those that have been evaluated by oil and gas companies but have not yet been authorized for development. These findings indicate that the country’s yearly gas production is projected to increase from an estimated 37bcm in the current year to 49bcm by 2033.
The cautious evaluation does not take into account gas reserves that are believed to exist but have not been confirmed through drilling, and could potentially be tapped within the next decade. It also does not factor in Azerbaijan’s predicted output of gas condensate, a liquid version of the hydrocarbon.
In the previous month, the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, stated that the country is making steady progress towards its objective of doubling gas exports to Europe by 2027. The country also exports gas to Turkey and Georgia.
The government of Aliyev recently selected a previous leader from their state oil and gas organization to serve as the president for the upcoming Cop29 climate discussions in Baku this November. Mukhtar Babayev, who had worked at Socar for 26 years, was chosen as Azerbaijan’s minister for ecology and natural resources back in 2018.
The critics are comparing the recent appointment to the appointment of Sultan Al Jaber as the head of the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai last year, while he was still working as the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
The government of Azerbaijan aims to address the shortage of gas in Europe caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. However, there are concerns that Azerbaijan’s focus on fossil fuels has contributed to the funding of military actions against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to Global Witness, the government of Azerbaijan has earned over four times their military spending through their share in two major oil and gas projects operated by BP. This has been the case since 2020 when the ongoing conflict resurfaced. As a result, more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s residents have sought refuge in Armenia, with Yerevan accusing Azerbaijan of engaging in “ethnic cleansing” in their aggressive efforts to regain complete authority over the disputed region.
Dominic Eagleton, a lead advocate at Global Witness, stated: “As we rapidly approach a climate crisis, we are being urged to trust Azerbaijan, a nation heavily reliant on oil companies and significantly ramping up its gas production, with our future. We require climate policy decision-making to be led by those prioritizing the climate, rather than countries driven by their own agendas to maintain reliance on fossil fuels.”