Azerbaijan oil

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s economy is almost entirely dependent on oil, a resource managed almost exclusively by the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (Socar). Read more

Questions remain as to the benefits the Azeri people have seen from their oil. 

Azerbaijan was the first country to be deemed compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international movement to promote accountable management of natural resources. However, our report Azerbaijan Anonymous found evidence to suggest that the state oil company was striking deals with companies whose owners were not publicly known and giving shares of Socar’s oil trading subsidiary to private interests. Our report did not suggest these deals were corrupt, but their obscurity raises questions about the management of the Azeri oil sector.

Our investigation found that one man, Anar Alizade, was involved in at least 48 deals with Socar. At the time the report was published, very little was known about Alizade or how he achieved this position in the Azeri oil industry, yet his companies made over US$375 million in five years largely from deals with Socar.  Since the publication of our report Socar revealed more information about their previously opaque deals and Alizade gave extensive interviews about his involvement, yet some questions remain unanswered.

Azerbaijan Anonymous helped to bring to light information about the deal-making process in Azerbaijan.  Global Witness believes that it should be required for this sort of information to be made public, as without it countries can comply with EITI rules while opaque deals continue to be struck with obscure companies behind closed doors, keeping the people of Azerbaijan in the dark.

As well as lack of transparency in oil dealings, Azerbaijan also has a highly questionable human rights record. This has culminated in the arrest of prominent activists, lawyers, journalists, and bloggers, preventing civil society from operating freely and openly, one of the implications of which is compromising the effectiveness of the EITI process itself.