"Strong disagreement" over Russian Caspian oil tender

Oct 20, 1997 02:00 AM

August 30, 1997 Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry has expressed "strong disagreement" with Russia's plans to hold a tender for the exploration of huge oil and gas riches on the part of the Caspian Sea shelf that it considers its own.
"The Foreign Ministry is authorised to express its strong disagreement with the holding of the tender, to declare the inadmissibility of unilateral actions, uncoordinated with Kazakhstan, held on its territory and the necessity to reconsider the decision taken," it said. It said it had information that Russia's Natural Resources Ministry had announced a tender for the right to explore mineral resources in the Caspian Sea. The tender results are to be announced in the Black Sea town of Gelendzhik in October.
"From the location of the blocks put up in the tender it is clear that some of them are in Kazakhstan's sector of the Caspian Sea," it said. Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev told that the results of the tender could be announced on October 2 and added: "The larger part of the blocks lie in our national sector and it is impossible to hold this tender."
The five littoral states -- Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan -- have strong economic interests in the Caspian Sea holding huge reserves of oil and national gas.
Kazakhstan's reserves in the sector it considers its own are roughly estimated at 10 billion tonnes of crude and two trillion cubic metres of natural gas. But the development of the Caspian riches is being thwarted by disputes about which area of the sea belongs to each state.
Russia and Iran say the oil belongs to all five littoral states, while the other three countries have divided the Caspian into sections and proceeded to develop their own areas.
In the most recent and vivid example of the tug-of-war for Caspian resources, Turkmenistan secured property rights over the Serdar oil field. The field, containing estimated reserves of 50 million tonnes of oil, had been targeted for joint exploitation by Azerbaijan's SOCAR with Russia's LUKoil and Rosneft.
SOCAR signed a contract with LUKoil and Rosneft in July but the deal was cancelled earlier this month by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who declared it null and void after talks with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov.

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