In Russian capital, the meeting of the heads of the Eurasian Economical Cooperation member countries is being continued. Actually, the main questions of economical cooperation were discussed Monday. While today, the presidents intend to discuss issues of joint security in the framework of the CIS collective security agreement. Though, now the question is about some other things. Yesterday, presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan signed a protocol of the agreement between the two countries about sharing of the northern part of Caspian Sea bottom to realize sovereign rights of bowels use fixed in the agreement of July 6, 1998. The protocol established “geographical coordiantes of the modified middle line sharing the bottom of the northern part of Caspian Sea between Russia and Kazakhstan.” It should be noticed that Russia and Kazakhstan, together with Azerbajan insist on namely this principle of Caspian Sea’s sharing. According to the document, working of hydrocarbon resources of geological structures of Kurmangaza, Central and Khvalynsk deposits situated in this very part of Caspian Sea will be carried out jointly, in equal parts, 50 percent each. President Putin called the protocol “the real progress in cooperation of the two countries in mastering of Caspian Sea,” while his Kazakh colleague said that joint working of the deposits is an example for other countries. It was known long ago that Russia and Kazakhstan intended to jointly work oil deposits in the northern part of Caspian Sea. This decision has its reasons. First reason is the still not settled status of Caspian Sea. When this problem is solved, nobody can say. So, the start of working cannot depend on the settlement of Caspian Sea’s issue. All the more that Russia and Kazakhstan intend to work only that deposits which without question belong to them. Second reason is that extracting oil is very profitable. To extract oil in this region is much cheaper than, for example, in Siberia. Therefore, Caspian oil could compete with oil exported from Persian Gulf countries, and not only economically, but politically, too. It is not a secret that recently the US and the EU seriously consider the prospect of increasing volumes of oil bought in Russia to not depend so much on energy resources bought in Arab countries. The main trouble in realizing this intention is too high prices of Russian oil, which partly could be settled through extracting oil in Caspian Sea. Not in vain President Putin noticed after having signed the protocol that this document could excite interest of Europe and Northern America. “It is always easier to work with counties who do not have any controversies and posses law documents,” – the President said. Though, in this case, many political and economical nuances should be taken into account, such as low throughput of Russian pipelines, lack of supertankers, with carrying capacity of 350-400 thousand tons, or that fact that Turkey constantly intends to close Bosporus for Russian tankers from “ecological reasons.” As a matter of fact, the Kazakh leadership had nothing better to do than to sign the protocol. Kazakhstan, certainly, could independently work the oil deposits. Though to extract oil is not enough: it should be also supplied to the consumer. While main oil pipelines go through Russian territory. Therefore, Kazakh authorities are interested in this cooperation with Russia. The protocol about joint working of the deposits signifies that at the moment the leadership of Caspian states can settle the Caspian issue only through signing bilateral agreements. For the time being, only in economical sphere. So, and what about the political one?
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/14/41058.html