Oil and Power in the Caspian Region

Authored by: Richard Pomfret

Handbook of Oil Politics

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  January  2012

Print ISBN: 9781857435832
eBook ISBN: 9780203851012
Adobe ISBN:


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Before 1990 the Caspian Basin was not an important oil-producing region and the Caspian Sea was divided between the Soviet Union and Iran. In 1991 that all changed. The modern Caspian oil industry dates from the Tengiz agreement signed between Chevron and the USSR in 1990, the largest foreign investment deal in Soviet history. Before the oilfield could be exploited, the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991 and the project was inherited by the new independent state of Kazakhstan. At the same time there was growing interest in the possibility of rich offshore oilfields under the Caspian Sea, but the delimitation of the Caspian among Iran and the four littoral Soviet successor states was in dispute.

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