Turkmens to Develop Disputed Oilfields

ASHGABAT (Reuter)–Turkmen’stan said on Friday it planned to develop a disputed oil field in the Caspian Sea with the National Iranian Oil Company and an unnamed Russian company.

"Other foreign partners–including those from Azerbaijan–will be invited to develop this oilfield–with recoverable reserves of 50 million metric tons," a Turkmen foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters.

He said the NIOC and an unnamed Russian company would participate but gave no further details.

The offshore field is disputed by Azerbaijan and Turkmen’stan–two former Soviet republics which sit on opposite sides of the Caspian Sea.

The Azeris call the field "Kyapaz" while the Turkmens have named the field "Serdar."

Turkmen’stan protested against a $1 billion deal struck in July between Azerbaijan’s state oil company Socar and Russian oil companies Rosneft and LUKoil.

On a visit to Moscow earlier this month–Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said Russian President Boris Yeltsin had annulled the deal.

Azerbaijan’s Socar said this week it has had no written confirmation from either Rosneft or LUKoil that they intend to pull out of the deal.

Russia and Iran treat the Caspian as a giant lake which they argue should be developed jointly. Azerbaijan–Kazakhstan and Turkmen’stan argue that it is a sea which should be divided up.

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