Caspian Dispute: Russia, Iran and three others reach an agreement. Borders left-out

After three decades, four ex-Soviet nations- Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran have finally reached an agreement about the division of massive oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea thus giving way to more energy exploration and other projects. There will be additional agreements needed between the littoral nations for the delimitation of seabed.

Although many nations have pushed for huge offshore projects, it was the lack of consensus over the legal status of the Sea which came in way of implementation of these ideas. Of these the notable projects comprise the Kashagan Oil Field off the coast of Kazakhstan, pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and then stretch to Europe etc. Latter when completed will stand in direct competition with Russia in Western markets.

The dispute had set in after the disintegration of Soviet Union which had marked clear boundaries between Caspian Sea and Iran. Tehran on its part had pressed to either divide the whole Sea into five equal parts or develop its resources jointly. Latter ideas were not accepted by any other member states but three nations namely Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan had effectively split the Caspian Sea between the median lines.

The agreement over the Kapaz/Serdar reserves is yet to be arrived at as there is lack of common ground between Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran. The oil fields are solely responsible for about 620 million oil barrels. Although the three nations have made attempts to develop various disputed oil fields, they also resorted to use of force to scare the contractors which were working for others, thereby making no progress on ground.

The agreement was described as historic by all sides although no details about splitting of the seabed was furnished. It was clarified that the convention document is not final and much work will be required for complete border delimitation.

The Trans-Caspian Pipeline is another contention point due to environmental concerns raised by Moscow.

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