TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The agreements were signed during a visit to Moscow by Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh and followed, as the domestic media reported, “several months of negotiations”. No details regarding the documents have been publicized.
This would be the first time for Iran and Russia to cooperate over an energy-related project in the Caspian Sea.
Also, the agreements are significant given that Iran and other littoral states of the Sea – Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – are yet to determine its maritime and seabed boundaries.
Despite extensive negotiations, the legal status of the Caspian Sea has been unclear since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
To the same effect, the littoral states refrain from conducting oil and gas exploration operations in border areas that could put them into an ownership dispute with the neighbors. Therefore, chances are high that Iran’s partnership with Lukoil could eventually help demarcate the basin boundaries between the five countries.
Iran has already discovered an oil field – Sardar-e Jangal - in the southern parts of the Caspian Sea.
Sardar-e-Jangal field contains an estimated 1.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in-place and some 500 million barrels of recoverable crude. Experts believe it could become Iran's first major oil/gas field development project in the Caspian Sea, as the country has already made progress in studying the field's geological structures and its reserves, Iran’s English-language newspaper the Financial Tribune wrote in a recent report.
The Caspian region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is an increasingly important source of global energy production. It holds an estimated 48 billion barrels of oil and more than 8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in proven and probable reserves.
According to the US Energy Information Association, between 2000 and 2012, Turkmenistan produced more than 70 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Caspian basin, followed by Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Iran's production has been zero, the Financial Tribune added.
Zangeneh arrived in Moscow on Tuesday to attend the 19th ministerial meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
The 12 main members of the forum are Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.
Countries like the Netherlands, Norway, Iraq, Oman, Peru and Azerbaijan Republic are observer members of the forum.