Turkmens Ask UN Help to Resolve Caspian Oil Row

ASHGABAT (Reuters)–Turkmen’stan–at odds with Azerbaijan over which litoral state owns what in the resource-rich Caspian–has appealed to the United Nations to help resolve the dispute–a Turkmen official said on Wednesday.

"Ashgabat is not sure that it is possible to find a just solution to all disputed issues only through the efforts of Caspian states," the official from the ex-Soviet state’s foreign ministry told Reuters.

"Therefore–the participation of the UN in working out the legal status of the Caspian is very important," he said.

The official said that a special UN commission to tackle territorial disputes in the Caspian might be set up shortly.

Two disputed oil fields – Azeri and Chirag – are claimed by Azerbaijan and are already being developed by an $8-billion international consortium–the Azerbaijan International Operating Company.

But Turkmen’stan claims it owns the Azeri deposit and part of the Chirag field–the remainder of which it says is the property of Iran.

The Turkmen official said that Iran had also appealed to the UN after AIOC pumped first oil from the disputed area earlier this month.

The AIOC is an 11-member consortium led by a British Petroleum-Statoil alliance.

On Sept. 1–Turkmen’stan announced an international tender for rights to develop oil and gas riches in what it claims to be its sector of the Caspian.

The Caspian littoral states–which also include Russia and Kazakhstan–disagree over how to divide up the spoils.

Russia and Iran argue that Caspian projects should be developed jointly–whereas the former Soviet states of Turkmen’stan–Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan prefer dividing each nation’s share up into sectors.

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