Azerbaijan courts IFIs for gas project financing at World Bank annual meeting

By bne IntelliNews October 10, 2016

An Azerbaijani delegation met with representatives of the World Bank , the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions at the World Bank and IMF annual meeting in Washington to discuss financing for gas exploration and transport scheme, the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), the country's finance ministry said in a statement on October 8.

SGC is one of the largest hydrocarbon investment schemes in Europe at the moment, and will enable the export of 16bn cubic metres (cm) of Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and Europe starting in 2018. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan founded an eponymous state-owned company to run the domestic part of the project, which encompasses several other countries – Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy. SGC's CEO Afqan Isayev said Azerbaijan will be funding $11.5bn of the project, which has an estimated total cost of $46bn. 

Azerbaijan had invested $5.2bn in the project as of late August, with funding coming from a combination of state finances and capital markets. The government has injected some $1.7bn, SGC issued $2.5bn in bonds and the sovereign wealth fund SOFAZ and raised $1bn in Eurobond issue in March.

However, Baku is planning spending cuts for its 2017 state budget in order to offset lower revenues from oil and gas exports, meaning that it may need external funding for the remaining $6bn of the project.

According to the statement, an Azerbaijani delegation led by Finance Minister Samir Sharifov met with representatives of the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and several commercial banks to raise financing for the project.

The outcome of the talks has not been revealed. The first news that Baku had initiated such negotiations surfaced in August. 

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