Iran hosted the second Caspian summit Tuesday where leaders from the five Caspian littoral states -- Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan -- met to discuss how best to divide the resource-rich seabed, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the littoral states have held numerous expert meetings and have made progress in some areas. For example, a convention for protecting the sea's environment was signed by the five countries in 2003 and went into effect in August 2006 with the cooperation of the U.N. Environment Program.
An agreement on sharing the sea could pave the way for new developments, particularly seabed oil and natural gas pipelines that could dramatically change the economic landscape of the region, which holds up to 200 billion barrels of recoverable oil according to some estimates.
Many energy-hungry countries will closely watch the summit as major oil-consuming countries look to diversify their sources of energy.
Although it is doubtful the leaders of the five littoral countries will reach a comprehensive deal on the sea's legal status in all areas, the fact that they have agreed to sit together to discuss matters of such importance is a success for Caspian states in general and Iran in particular.
PetroChina boosts oil, gas output
PetroChina, the listed subsidiary of the country's largest oil producer China National Petroleum Corp., said Monday its oil and gas output in the first nine months reached 828 million barrels of oil equivalent, up 4.3 percent from a year earlier, according to a company statement.
In the first nine months PetroChina produced 632 million barrels of crude oil, up 0.9 percent on the same period last year, and about 1.18 trillion cubic feet of marketable natural gas, up 16.8 percent.
Its crude oil output in the third quarter alone was 212 million barrels, with that of marketable natural gas hitting 378.1 billion cubic feet.
PetroChina's average price for crude oil stood at $60.94 per barrel over the first nine months, down 56 cents per barrel from a year ago.
In the same period, the company also processed a total of 611 million barrels of crude oil, an increase of 30.4 million barrels from the same period in 2006.
Its diesel production reached 35.5 million tons, up 7.9 percent. The company also produced 16.1 million tons of gasoline, down 0.9 percent, along with 1.53 million tons of kerosene, down 2.3 percent.
The company processed 203 million barrels of crude oil and produced 5.43 million tons of gasoline, 11.61 million tons of diesel and 0.54 million tons of kerosene in the third quarter alone.
SOCAR mulls decision on Odessa-Brody pipeline
The State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijani Republic, or SOCAR, said it will decide in 2008 whether it wants to participate in the Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk oil pipeline project, Rovnag Abdullayev, president of SOCAR, told reporters Monday.
"Azerbaijan as an oil exporting country is interested in diversifying export routes. The more routes there are the better. We already have three routes and we are considering a fourth. We are interested in the Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk oil pipeline and have joined the Sarmatia joint venture to prepare the feasibility study for the project," Abdullayev said.
The feasibility study could be completed this year, he said.
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine agreed to set up the Sarmatia venture on Oct. 10, 2007, at the energy summit in Vilnius to deal with the project.
The Odessa-Brody trunk pipeline was built in 2001 to ship Caspian oil but lay idle for a number of years.
The Ukrainian government agreed to allow the pipeline to pump in reverse to transport Russian oil in June 2004.
Ukraine and Poland now plan to extend the pipeline to Plock and Gdansk to transport oil to Europe.
Closing oil prices, Oct. 16, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $83.30
West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $86.43