Ashgabat, Baku spar over Caspian reserves

July 27, 2009 at 1:35 PM

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, July 27 (UPI) -- Turkmenistan has ordered top-ranking legal teams to investigate claims by Azerbaijan over the rights to oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov ordered Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov to examine the Azeri claims with the intent on taking the matter to the International Court of Arbitration.

"We have held talks with Azerbaijan 16 times but still could not resolve this issue," Berdimuhamedov said.

The president claims Baku started developments at disputed oil and gas fields and plans to explore additional deposits in the Caspian Sea, the Azeri Press Agency reports.

"Such unilateral actions in the Caspian, particularly exploration of the fields without the agreement of the interested parties, are unacceptable for Turkmenistan," he said.

He went on to blame the territorial disputes on delays in the implementation of several oil and gas developments in the region.

Both countries have emerged as regional energy giants, particularly for the Nabucco gas pipeline for Europe. Both are among the top gas producers of the former Soviet states.

Only Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan have settled their territorial claims in the Caspian Sea, leaving Iran and Turkmenistan with frustrating differences.

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