• Caspian Sea countries agree deal splitting use of the territory, paving way for new gas pipeline to Europe

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have agreed a deal on the division of the Caspian Sea – a body of water that is home to significant hydrocarbon resources and which has been the subject of disagreement since the fall of the Soviet Union. The agreement is a complex one politically. It will allow Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to build an undersea pipeline across the Caspian to Azerbaijan, giving Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan a potential route to export their natural gas reserves to Turkey and on to Europe. Meanwhile, it gives exclusive military use to Russia by banning any use of it by non-Caspian countries, and therefore prevents any Nato or Chinese efforts to strengthen military ties with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan. For Azerbaijan, there is the chance to import gas from Turkmenistan, and for Iran the deal improves ties with other countries at a time when there are other international efforts to isolate it. The deal is also of interest to Europe, evidenced by Chancellor Merkel of Germany already having made a visit to the Caucus countries of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – three countries that would be part of the transport of Central Asian gas to Europe. Such a supply of gas would reduce Germany’s reliance on Russian imports, at least in theory.