The Baku Summer Energy School (BSES) has successfully completed another summer session, which brought together energy sector professionals, academics and engineers in Azerbaijan’s capital city to better understand the role the Caspian basin plays in global energy markets.
“I have been here for the last four years. I think it is a great opportunity for the people who come from all over the world – from the U.S., from Europe, from other places of the world – to acquire the knowledge about energy, Azerbaijan, the Caspian and the region,” Dr. Manfred Hafner from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, who was a guest speaker at BSES this year, told the forum’s organizers.
What began in 2006 under the auspices of ADA University in Baku is now in its twelfth year. The two week certificate program is coordinated by the Caspian Center for Energy and Environment (CCEE) at ADA University, which has partnered with the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and BP.
This year’s forum brought world-renowned scholars, academics and policy makers together to gain a better understanding of global energy markets and environmental issues. Participants and speakers came from 50 different countries, including Colombia, France, Greece, Israel, Japan, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Turkey and the U.S.
“Top lecturers from Europe, the U.S., Azerbaijan, the region of the Caspian as well as a lot of ambassadors from the Caspian countries give the students a wonderful introduction into the Caspian energy and how important the Caspian energy is for Europe and the world as a whole,” Dr. Hafner said.
National and international specialists are eligible to apply to the program, which receives hundreds of applications each year. Only around 40 are selected from what are pools of mid-career professionals from energy companies, policy makers, and civil servants from governmental institutions, embassies and international organizations; scholars, journalists and graduate students focusing their research on the ties between energy and environmental issues.
“The program is fantastic for various reasons. First and foremost, we are really at the heart of where the oil industry started – the first well was drilled here,” said Robert Ryszard, a lawyer and participant this year from the U.K who specializes in energy issues.
“You can actually understand and grasp some energy concepts that the professors are talking about by speaking to energy professionals, leading academics, and the people practicing in the energy industry,” he said. “Overall, the school is absolutely fantastic and highly recommended to anyone no more only seeking about oil and gas and Baku but about wider region.”
BSES instructors and speakers include leading national and international experts working in academia as well as the public and private sectors, including ExxonMobil, Oxford and Princeton universities, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ), and other Azerbaijani government agencies.
“I am really impressed by the speakers because we have here a lot of experts, famous names in the political life and in the field of energy policy,” said Mr. Asen Petrov Zahariev, who serves as a Senior Expert in the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Bulgaria. “We passed through different topics, and I can tell you that everyone is really interesting. It is not only speakers’ lectures, but also discussions between the participants and the guests of the university.”
Topics covered this year included fundamentals of energy, energy law, energy economics, the geopolitics of energy, environmental issues and strategic management. Given Azerbaijan’s location and significance in the global energy market, a special focus was the Caspian Basin, including regional pipeline network development, the geopolitics of the Caspian Sea and its legal status amongst its five littoral states, and the strategic outlook of SOCAR.
Baku has long been known for its oil. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote about the export of crude oil from Baku for long distances. Azerbaijani petroleum deposits have played a role in its history and development, and in recent decades have put what is a country roughly the size of Maine on the global energy market map.