Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

1st LD: 5 states sign pact for shared use of Caspian Sea

1st LD: 5 states sign pact for shared use of Caspian Sea

Before heading to Aktau, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said under the convention, all legal issues of the sea should be implemented through the consensus of the five littoral states, stressing that the agreement did not include dividing the waters.

Rouhani said that by signing of convention, a new step has been taken to improve relations among the five littoral countries.

"Relations of Iran with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan have always been friendly and close and this is the main factor for signing such agreements", he continued.

Speaking after the signing on Sunday, all five leaders praised it as historic event, but provided little detail about provisions on splitting the seabed.

The legal status of the Caspian Sea, the world's largest inland body of water, had been unresolved since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

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The countries of the "Caspian Five" (Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) signed a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea on 12 August at a summit in the Kazakh city of Aktau. It also allows each to lay pipelines offshore with consent only from the neighboring states affected, rather than from all Caspian Sea nations.

Another issue is that the Caspian Sea is rich in oil and gas.

The leaders of Iran and 4 former Soviet nations reached an agreement in Kazakhstan on Sunday during the 5th round of an ad hoc convention.

Putin also praised this clause, saying it would help "ensure the peaceful status of the Caspian Sea".

If it was termed a sea, it would be covered by the global maritime law, namely the United Nations Law of the Sea. Only the seabed shall be delineated into sectors, as per sea principles.

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The question whether the Caspian Sea is an ocean or a lake is set to determine the future of the vast body of landlocked water.

It's estimated there are 50 billion barrels of oil and almost 8.4 trillion cubic metres of natural gas beneath its seabed.

Between 80 and 90 percent of the world's caviar is sourced from the Caspian, but the numbers have been falling over the past few decades.

However, with offshore Caspian oil and gas production already nearly at 2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, the impact from new fields - if and when disputes about their ownership are settled - might be limited.

One of those is a pipeline across the Caspian which could ship natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and then further to Europe, allowing it to compete with Russian Federation in the Western markets.

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Nazarbayev said the convention allows for the construction of underwater oil and gas pipelines as well as setting national quotas for fishing and forbids any foreign military presence.

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