After some discussion, Senators voted to confirm the Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as the next U.S. Secretary of State. Tillerson, who has worked his entire professional life at America’s largest oil and gas company, is known, among other things, for public criticism of U.S. government regulations and Exxon’s commercial rivals, most prominently BP.
Prior to rising to CEO in 2006, Tillerson handled Exxon’s post-Soviet portfolio, where he was successful in reaching and maintaining strategic relationships with the leaders of Russia and Kazakhstan. Tillerson’s record in Azerbaijan has not been as successful: of the five operating contracts Exxon concluded there, none brought profit, three of them have since been shut down and two delayed indefinitely over territorial disputes with Iran.
Exxon retains a minority stake in Azerbaijan’s main source of oil production, the ACG fields, operated by BP. In the last year, according to reporting by Reuters, Tillerson has blocked that project’s renewal, demanding better terms for Exxon. Back in the early 2000s, Exxon refused to join the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project and also remained outside the Shah Deniz gas project and associated pipeline.