Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on 12 August signed a legal framework to divvy up the Caspian Sea, but left the politically difficult decision of delineating the oil and gas rich seabed for another time. The five littoral states agreed to 15-mile-wide territorial waters with an additional 10 miles of exclusive fishing rights. The deal smooths the geopolitics of plans for a cross-Caspian pipeline linking Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and potentially Europe.

The EIA estimates that the Caspian Sea has 25.7bn barrels of oil and 106tcf of gas reserves. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have the lion’s share. Iran’s Caspian reserves are relatively small, although very little exploration has taken place so far. Iran has also received cross-Caspian cargoes of Turkmen crude in a ‘swap’ deal which was revived last year (MEES, 13 October 2017). (CONTINUED - 131 WORDS)