Student Research

Hydrocarbon Resources in the Caspian Sea: Geopolitical Impacts

GMA 400 - Senior Seminar Research

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created three new riparian states surrounding the Caspian Sea. This maritime realm is resource rich with vast hydrocarbon reserves. Russia and Iran must now come to terms with the reality that they are no longer entitled to split this body of water and its resources between themselves. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have rightful claims to regions within the Caspian Sea basin that contain the majority of these offshore hydrocarbon reserves. These natural resources have drawn the outside interests of Europe and the United States. The west wishes to reduce Russia’s monopoly over Eurasian energy markets with the construction of a Trans-Caspian Pipeline system which would create and east to west hydrocarbon corridor. However, a legal regime for the Caspian Sea is still vehemently contested between these five states. Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan all realize that whatever legal regime defines the Caspian Sea will have a monumental affect on hydrocarbon production and transportation.