Caspian States no Closer to Resolving Issue of Division of Resources

22 Jan 2013

Illustration: Liu Rui

(Global Times) The year 2012 was not a crucial one for the five Caspian states, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran, in settling the legal status of this water basin.

Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia want to divide the shelf of the Caspian Sea into national sectors with exclusive rights to explore and exploit the riches, while keeping the sea open for navigation.

Turkmenistan, which recently discovered oil in its national sector, also began to slowly change its position to adopt the views of Baku, Astana and Moscow.

Iran remained the only littoral state that heavily opposed any national sector division of the Caspian Sea.

The majority of oil fields in the Caspian Sea were discovered by Azerbaijani oilmen.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan became the only country with the experience and equipment to explore and exploit the oil fields.

In 1994, Azerbaijan signed an oil contract, called the Contract of Century, with major oil companies headed by BP. The contract envisioned the exploration of the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli oil fields located off the Caspian shore.

It is not surprising that Azerbaijan spearheaded the talks on dividing the Caspian Sea based on the principles of continental shelf division. Currently, the status does not affect the Azerbaijani pace of oil and gas field exploitation.

However, the undecided status of the Caspian Sea is affecting construction of pipelines across the water.

As for Kazakhstan, in the early stage of its independence, it did not push too much toward division of the Caspian Sea into national sectors.

But after exploring the huge oil and gas reserves in its sector of the Caspian Sea [...]

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