When it comes to naval control of the Caspian Sea, Russia is the undisputed leader. However, as EurasiaNet posts, the role of second in command is up for grabs, and Turkmenistan is making a power play for it.
However, this grab for naval power comes in tandem with increasing tension over three oil fields to which both Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan lay claim. Last month, talks became heated when discussing the oil field called Kyapaz in Azerbaijan and Serdar in Turkmenistan, particularly regarding the parsing of natural resources that exist under the Caspian Sea. Talks about hydrocarbons in the Caspian Sea have been ongoing in the two countries for 15 years. Both countries are pushing buttons and trying to assert themselves, but neither are willing to soften their approach towards the dispute.
Russia benefits greatly from dispute over the energy fields – the longer it drags on, the longer Russia retains its position as the primary natural gas exporter to Europe and the more control it has over prices. Should other pipelines be constructed which avoid Russian involvement, not only will prices decrease but so to will Russia’s influence, both in the Central Asian region and in Europe.
The Asia Times suggests the only body that can competently handle the dispute is the International Court of Justice, but this is unlikely as Turkmenistan doesn’t recognize their jurisdiction.
The Financial Times discusses further natural gas findings in Azerbaijan, and future hopes for even more discoveries.