Caspian sea littoral states discuss advancing territorial agreement

Caspian sea littoral states discuss advancing territorial agreement

Today, high-level ministers of the five littoral states of the Caspian Sea—Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan—will meet in Baku.

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Photo: Reuters

Today, high-level ministers of the five littoral states of the Caspian Sea—Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan—will meet in Baku.

Dubbed the High-Level Working Group on the Caspian Sea, the purpose of today’s meeting is to monitor the implementation of last year’s breakthrough agreement that formally divided the sea after 22 years of negotiations.

The Caspian Sea contains more than 50 billion barrels worth of oil and huge deposits of natural gas, while last year’s agreement divides only the surface and not the seabed that contains those deposits. As such, questions remain over the long-term viability of the agreement.

In fact, with the agreement set to pave the way for more resource extraction projects in the Caspian Sea, longstanding disputes could be reinflamed, particularly among the southern littoral states. Indeed, Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have long disputed access to hydrocarbon deposits in the south of the Caspian Sea.

Meanwhile, an ambitious pipeline project by Turkmenistan that could pave the way for gas exports to Europe—a market dominated by Russia—could also test this newfound cooperation among Caspian Sea littoral states.

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