Until 1991, when the Soviet Union ended, the Caspian was controlled by two States, the USSR and, to a more limited extent, Iran. The dissolution of the USSR and the emergence of three new coastal states have changed this balance. The Caspian Sea is now acquiring an international dimension. Indeed, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan claim a share of energy resources, but the five riparian countries fail to agree on the definition of legal status.
In other words, the question we will address is, is the Caspian a sea or a lake? The issue is not nearly as innocuous as it seems. Indeed, defining the status of the Caspian Sea will have consequences in terms of navigation, fisheries, environment, and especially the exploitation of hydrocarbon resources. This explains why it is the subject of a debate that has lasted more than fifteen years between the countries concerned.
The evolution of their positions during the last decade, however, shows a willingness of the parties to reach a compromise quickly. However, so far, although recent developments have made progress, no agreement has been concluded. Yet, the exploitation of the Caspian is already well underway, and oil companies have a vested interest in the area which is endowed with a high status. Indeed, despite their relative importance, the hydrocarbon reserves of the Caspian Sea could help meet the growing global energy needs.
Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the Caspian Sea is both the largest landlocked body of water in the world, with an area of 371 000 km2 , and one of the smallest seas. It is 1000 km deep, and receives water from large rivers like the Volga and Ural. Its location explains its biodiversity and the strategic importance of its oil and gas resources. The most important resources fall in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan (oil) and Turkmenistan (gas).
The North Caspian Basin (Or pre-Caspian), includes several giant gas fields, particularly Tengiz and Karachaganak. This basin, which has very favorable geological conditions, is probably under-explored onshore, and its marine part has not yet been drilled. The exploitation of deposits of this basin, however, is likely to endanger the fragile ecological balance of this region.
The South Caspian Basin, which stretches from Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan across the Caspian, has been in operation for the longest time. It has several major oil fields, particularly in Azeri (Guneshli, Chirag, Azeri and Neftianye Kamni).
The Amu Darya basin, covering oilfields in Turkmenistan and Uzbek part of the reserves which are mainly gas, consist of a pretty good run. But it certainly holds even greater potential at levels deeper than those explored.
In recent years there has been much speculation about the riches of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan were even described as future "small emirates.". It now seems certain that the region has between 2% and 6% of world oil reserves and between 6% and 10% of gas reserves[.
Moreover, while onshore reserves of Central Asia were exploited during the Soviet period, the offshore reserves remained virtually unexplored, with the exception of Baku, with priority given to those of Siberia, whose operation seemed faster and cheaper.
Tags: Current state of exploitation of hydrocarbons, South Caspian Basin, North Caspian Basin
[...] In recent years there has been much speculation about the riches of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan were even described as future "small emirates. "It now seems certain that the region has between and of world oil reserves and between and 10% of gas reserves . Moreover, while onshore reserves of Central Asia were exploited during the Soviet period, the offshore reserves remained virtually unexplored, with the exception of Baku, with priority given to those of Siberia, whose operation seemed faster and cheaper. [...]
[...] However, through numerous bilateral treaties and multilateral agreements, the lack of status and consensus does not prevent exploitation of the riches of the Caspian to take its course. Current state of exploitation of hydrocarbons Oil production from the Caspian Sea in 2004 was 1.8 million barrels per day, or of world production. This should be doubled by 2015, thanks in particular to Kazakhstan, and the Azeri-Chirag-complex Guneshli in Azerbaijan. These two countries are indeed the main producers in the area. [...]
[...] In addition, while other riparian countries have formed an alliance regarding the legal status and exploitation of the Caspian Sea, Iran finds itself without allies and economic perspective in the region,, and all its impulses are thus blocked by the USA. However, this isolation is relativized by the "New Great Game" between the Americans and Russians. Having found a common enemy, the United States and Iran, despite all their differences, find themselves allies. Indeed, there is a new battle for influence between Russia and the United States. [...]
[...] Defining the legal status of the Caspian Sea is not only a legal issue, but also has geo-strategic interests. II. Two competing approaches are complicated by regional differences Background The status of the Caspian Sea was set for the first time during the Iran-Persian Treaty of Gulistan (1813), followed by that of Turkmentchaï (1828). These treaties were then supplemented by the Soviet-Iranian agreements. The Treaty of Cooperation and Friendship of 1921 allowed the Iranians to have their own fleet and sail under their own flag, and the Caspian was operated jointly and equally by the two residents. [...]
[...] 23-24 April 2002 The first summit of the five countries bordering the Caspian Sea in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) on the establishment of a legal status for the sharing of oil and gas resources of the Caspian and the joint management of the environment and the water in the area took place. The summit ended without agreement, with Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, stressing the concept of sharing based on the length of the coastline, while Iran supported the idea of a division into five equal parts. [...]
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