Turkmenistan. On July 5, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Turkmenistan issued a letter questioning Azerbaijan's
ownership of the Kjapaz oil field. The oil field is located
in the Caspian Sea, on the border between the two countries'
sectors. The letter was prompted by a July 4 consortium of
Russian and Azerbaijani oil companies signed an agreement to
jointly exploit the oil field. According to
Countryaah, Turkmenistan's Foreign
Minister Boris Shikhmijradov called for the immediate
cancellation of the agreement and a Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan
commission to be set up to discuss the boundaries of the
national sectors of the Caspian Sea.
At a meeting between Turkmenistan's President Nijazov and
Russian Federation President Yeltsin in early August, it was
clear that the two Russian oil companies involved intended
to break the agreement with Azerbaijan. Yeltsin regretted
that he had never been informed of all the circumstances
behind the oil business. Despite the Russian turnaround in
the issue, Azerbaijani spokesmen insisted that the Kjapaz
field, which is believed to hold 50-80 million tonnes of
oil, belongs to Azerbaijan.
At the end of December, Turkmenistan agreed with Iran and
Turkey to have the oil company Shell project a gas pipeline
from Turkmenistan via Iran and Turkey to Europe. At the same
time, a 20-mile gas pipeline between Western Turkmenistan
and northern Iran was inaugurated, which will probably be
the first part of the longer pipeline. Turkmenistan is rich
in natural gas but had so far had some difficulties in
finding strong customers. Turkey, for its part, wanted to
break unilateral dependence on the Russian Federation in
terms of natural gas.