The sea of instability

By Nigar Orujova

Anyone who is not familiar with the realities of the region may seem strange that the five countries for more than 20 years decide what to call the water basin, on the banks of which they are situated.

However, the situation is exactly so with the Caspian Sea, let us call it a sea, as it is commonly known in the world. The Caspian Sea region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas around the world and still is an important source of global energy production.

During the Soviet era, the sea was distributed between only two states – the USSR and Iran. However, after the collapse of the Union, Iran has faced four more countries each wanting their own slab of cake – Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

The aspiration of Azerbaijan is not extraordinary, as this country is the first that started offshore oil production in the Caspian Sea in the world. The country has all the infrastructure for the extraction of hydrocarbons and was eager to continue the production.

Meanwhile, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan were also not ready to give in without a struggle. By now, the five littoral states are mixed up in the decades lasting talks and the end for negotiations is not even observed because of the present economic situation in the world.

The dominancy in the Caspian Sea is a large power to control region and Russia cannot leave hold of this trump card. From the other hand, four other states want their part of the hydrocarbons.

In two decades of talks, three countries – Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan – have managed to come to a single decision, while Turkmenistan and Iran are still on talks.

Today, when Iran got out of the Western sanctions, it may be interested to facilitate the problem as soon as possible. In this scenario, Turkmenistan will have no option, but solve the negotiations with other countries mainly with Azerbaijan, with whom it dispute over the ownership of potentially lucrative sections of the sea.

However, today when the prices for oil decreases day by day, another opportunities of the Caspian Sea is on the agenda with the transportation as one of the main.

The Caspian Sea is located on the ancient Silk Road and its favorable position between East and West is still important, especially after Russia introduced bans for a number of countries.

In this situation, Ukraine and Turkey, which previously used Russia as their pass to East, now looking for the Caspian Sea opportunities, while China is also concerned to use it to reach Europe.

Turkmenistan has also recently expressed interest to create the Caspian Sea regional transport and logistics center. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan and China are already involved into the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, which simplifies transportation a lot.

In this connection, solution of the Caspian status could further boost the transportation importance of the world’s largest inland water body.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

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