Iran Wants 20% Share of Caspian Resources

TEHRAN (Reuters)–Iran’said on Tuesday it would accept a division of the energy-rich Caspian Sea’s resources between the five littoral states if Tehran received a 20-percent share.

“If countries around the Caspian Sea want to divide (resources)–Tehran is ready to accept a complete division with a 20-percent share for the Islamic republic,” Iran’s news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi as saying.

Iranian officials have in recent months suggested that Iran may accept an equal division of Caspian oil and gas riches–in an apparent softening of Tehran’s long-held stand that the five countries around the sea should decide jointly on the resources.

The five states–which also include Azerbaijan–Kazakhstan–Russia and Turkmen’stan–disagree on how the Caspian should be divided between them. The dispute potentially puts offshore oil and gas exploration and production projects at risk.

“The spirit of the 1920 and 1940 accords (between Iran and the former Soviet Union) on the Caspian Sea suggests equality in exploiting the sea,” Kharrazi said.

Kharrazi was speaking at a meeting with visiting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny–who is Moscow’s special envoy to the Caspian region.

“Tehran’s first preference is a collective legal regime,” Kharrazi said.

The Caspian–which is believed to have huge hydrocarbon reserves–is the center of several oil and gas projects involving international majors.

Russia last month called on states around the sea to speedily resolve their disputes to adequately develop its resources.

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