Russian oil firms group to develop Turkmen Caspian Sea oil fields

Dec 09, 2003 01:00 AM

Turkmenistan's government intends to sign a deal with a group of major Russian oil companies to develop oil fields in its sector of the Caspian Sea, officials said.
The companies, ZarubezhNeft, Rosneft and Itera, will sign a production sharing agreement with the Turkmen government to work four fields in the southern part of the Caspian shelf near the Iranian border, according to the Turkmen Oil and Gas Ministry.

The inland Caspian Sea is believed to contain the world's third-largest oil and gas reserves. The sea is shared by Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran. The Turkmen and Iranian sectors of the Caspian shelf are the least developed due to disagreements with the three other countries with shores on the Caspian over the division of the sea and its resources.
The deal with the Russian companies may signal that Turkmenistan, which until now has waffled on its position, is now inclining toward Russia's position that the sea bed should be divided proportionately according to the length of each state's coastline.

This would leave Iran, the only country on the sea that is not a former Soviet republic, with the smallest portion -- less than 15 %. Iran insists the sea should be divided into five sections of equal size. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan support Russia's position in the dispute that emerged after the 1991 Soviet collapse.
Turkmenistan intends to attract $ 25.6 bn worth of foreign investment in its oil and gas sector between 2003 and 2020. The only foreign company now operating in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian shelf is the United Arab Emirates' Dragon Oil.

Source: AP WorldStream via Comtex
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