Position of Turkmenistan on the international status of the Caspian Sea.
On many issues relating to the definition of the international status of the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan exercises restraint, trying to approach the solution of an issue sequentially, avoiding speedy decisions or bloc approach. First of all, Turkmenistan considers it premature to conclude any agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea before clarifying the issue over the ownership of disputed oil fields with neighbouring countries.
At the same time on the main issues concerning the status of the Caspian Sea, the following should be noted. Turkmenistan is generally not against of the division according to the middle line. But Turkmenistan adheres to determination of the coordinates of the middle line on the basis of equally- spaced positions of the latitudes. Partition of the seabed and water area of the Caspian Sea, in this way, leads to the fact that at the latitude of 40°20’ from the conditional border till the coast of Azerbaijan will be three times closer than till the coast of Turkmenistan (see Figure 1) which is obviously unacceptable for Baku.
The red point on the picture - it is the border between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan sectors at the latitude of 40.2° of northern latitude. Baku categorically against of this principle of the middle line calculation, because thereby contested by Ashgabat fields of “Kapaz” and “Azeri”, which are now controlled by Azerbaijan, would pass to Turkmenistan and would enter into its national Caspian Sea sector. Any concession of Azerbaijan in this issue can cause the appearance of a dangerous precedent in the Caspian region with participation of Iran. Iran may become the next country which will ignore geographical affiliation of other controversial fields not only with Turkmenistan, but also with Azerbaijan. This situation is tacitly recognized by almost all countries in the region. Now Azerbaijan develops Chirag field which discovered and developed by Azerbaijani oilers during Soviet period, but Kapaz field (with estimated 30 million tons of oil resource) is not developed by any of these states. Azerbaijan offered to Turkmenistan to establish a joint company on equal basis to develop the field, however Turkmenistan insisted on waiting until the final resolution of the status of the Caspian Sea in order to start the development of the field. It is reported that there is a ‘gentleman’ agreement between the states not to attempt any research or exploration in the Kapaz field until the both sides agree on the future of the field (which is most likely happen with the all-inclusive agreement on legal status of the sea).
Similar disputes exist between Turkmenistan and Iran over border fields (blocks nn. 27, 28, 29, 30) in the southern part of the Turkmen sector. The attempt of Turkmenistan to develop these fields together with the consortium of Russian companies Zarit has angered Iran. Tehran opposed against this development, claiming own rights on that fields. Russia has invited Iran in response to join the consortium Zarit, but Tehran has refused, motivating it as a necessity for the final determination of the legal status of the Caspian Sea. As a result, in April 2004, Ashgabat decided to suspend all works over this project.