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Energy overshadows Caspian border disputes

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Demarcation of disputed waters in the Caspian Sea between Ashgabat and Baku should not delay potential joint development of oil and gas fields, officials say.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov ordered a national investigation to examine Azeri claims in the Caspian Sea with the intent on taking the matter to the International Court of Arbitration.

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Berdimuhamedov claims Baku started developments at oil and gas fields and plans to explore additional deposits in disputed waters.

Sabit Bagirov, the former president of the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan Republic, said it is unlikely the dispute will be resolved at the international level, the Trend news agency in Azerbaijan reports.

Bagirov notes that Baku has come forward with offers to jointly develop several fields in territorial border regions despite the disputed claims.

Baku offers a durable infrastructure with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and its related arteries, which may help Ashgabat overcome technological setbacks, he said.

Meanwhile, development of major Caspian fields, notably the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli complex, by international energy majors positions the region as a vital energy partner.

The Caspian border row could present another challenge to the $10.3 billion Nabucco gas pipeline for Europe. The project reached a milestone this month with a signing ceremony in Turkey, though the pipeline lacks firm commitments from potential suppliers.

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Though Azerbaijan appears ready to supply gas to Nabucco, Turkmenistan is expected to provide the bulk of the 1.1 trillion cubic feet of gas slated for the pipeline each year.

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