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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Azeri-Western Oil Deal Progresses, But Slowly

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Azeri President Haydar Aliyev said progress was being made in negotiating a multibillion-dollar oil deal between the Azeri national oil company SOCAR and a consortium of seven Western firms. But other senior officials said the long-awaited deal to develop two Caspian Sea fields might not be signed until July or August. "The negotiations have had their ups and downs but have now taken a much more promising turn," President Aliyev told the opening of an international oil and gas conference in the capital Baku on Tuesday. Aliyev later met representatives of the consortium, led by an alliance of British Petroleum and Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap, or Statoil, and gave them assurances of political stability in the Transcaucasian country. "We know that we are dealing with serious companies and I want to assure them that the country's present government has complete control over the political situation," a local journalist quoted Aliyev as saying. The Azeri government has changed twice in the past two years amid bitter recriminations about its failure to settle a war with ethnic Armenians over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. This has held up signing of the oil deal. Azeri parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev, a key player in negotiations, told reporters over the weekend that the deal would be concluded in late July or early August.