Oil and Geopolitics in the Caspian Sea Region

By Michael P. Croissant; Bülent Aras | Go to book overview

6

Russia: Developing Cooperation on the Caspian

Andrei Shoumikhin

The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the creation of several new systems of regional and international relations. The Caspian-Caucasus region 1 is one of the most important among them, in terms of its natural and human resources. To a considerable extent, the future of the region depends on the development of Caspian oil and gas resources. This process proceeds under complicated political conditions, including ongoing territorial and ethnic conflicts, competing interests and perspectives of Russia and other new independent states (NIS), as well as Iran, Turkey, China, different Western powers, and so forth.

At the same time, it is becoming more and more apparent that effective and rational exploitation of Caspian resources may be possible under conditions of wide international cooperation, involving all littoral states as well as outside powers and business interests that have substantial expert and investment capabilities in undertaking large-scale projects.

In view of the complicated geographic and geopolitical situation, one of the most difficult tasks currently unresolved is how to transport the crude oil produced in the Caspian basin, specifically in the Azeri zone, towards potential markets in Europe and elsewhere.

All local players have vested interest in assuring that transportation of Caspian oil is arranged in such a way as to provide them with special economic and political rights and advantages. International participants in large-scale investment projects are eagerly awaiting the outcome of regional contests to make appropriate decisions on the extent of their commitments. 2


THE ROLE AND PLACE OF CASPIAN OIL AND GAS IN WORLD ENERGY MARKETS

The natural resources of the Caspian basin and their exploration and exploitation play an important, albeit contradictory, role in the development effort of

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