Caspian Sea

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Place.png Caspian Sea
(Sea)
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Caspian Sea from orbit.jpg
View from orbit
Important for its oil and gas resources and for being situated between US geopolitical opponents.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea, but has no connection to an ocean.[1][2] It is located between Europe and Asia.[3] It is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south, and Turkmenistan to the South East.

Fossil fuels

The sea has considerable reservoirs of oil and natural gas, which has been of significant importance since the end of the 19th century. First, exclusive rights to develop Baku oil fields were in the hands of Russian-registered businesses, and only in 1898 foreign companies were granted rights to explore and develop oil fields as well as to participate in the annual bidding process. Ethnic Armenians (notably Calouste Gulbenkian) also contributed to the oil production and drilling around Baku. They reportedly ran almost one-third of the region's oil industry by 1900.

The (Swedish-Russian) Nobel family made its fortune on Baku oil. Between 1898 and 1903 British oil firms invested 60 million rubles in Baku oil fields, also De Rothschild Frères had significant involvement.

All foreign assets were nationalized after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. The Royal Dutch/Shell oil magnate Henri Deterding spent the following decades trying to recuperate these assets, funding numerous anti-communist organizations, including giving the critical start-up funds to Adolf Hitler's NSDAP, which later invaded the Soviet Union in an attempt to seize the Baku oil wells.

During the Soviet era, Baku and the Caspian became the main oil producing area, until partially replaced by Siberian sources in the 1970s.

After Azerbaijan's independence in 1991, the area attracted major interest from international oil interests (see for example the member list of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce). The region is a focus area for US geopolitics, where analysts state things such as "if the U.S. is to have a grand strategy for dealing with a resurgent Russia and an emboldened Iran, and to help Europe improve its energy security, policymakers in Washington, DC, cannot ignore the Caspian region."[4]

The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline officially opened on July 13, 2006 and transports crude oil 1,760 km (1,090 mi) from the Azeri–Chirag–Gunashli oil field on the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The oil is pumped from near Baku, via Tbilisi the capital of Georgia, to Ceyhan, a port on the south-eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It is the second-longest oil pipeline in the world,[5] and bypasses earlier Russian control of the transit.

Caspian Sea Treaty

The Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea is a treaty signed in Aktau, Kazakhstan, on 12 August 2018 by the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan.[6]

The convention eliminates non-Caspian states military presence to keep NATO and the US navy away[7]. As revealed by Wikileaks, in 2013 Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev had suggested to lease the Aktau port on the Caspian coast to the United States for NATO transit shipments to and from Afghanistan.[8]

The dispute began after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, as the Soviet Union (and subsequently Russia) and Iran were respecting mutual 1921 and 1940 treaties. However, according to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, these treaties did not address the exploitation of the seabed, thus a new UNCLOS treaty is necessary.[9]

The convention grants jurisdiction over 24 km (15 mi) of territorial waters to each neighboring country, plus an additional 16 km (10 mi) of exclusive fishing rights on the surface, while the rest is international waters.[10]



References