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Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan Finally Reach Deal On Lucrative Caspian Sea Energy Field

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (right) and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov supervised an online signing of the agreement on January 21.

BAKU -- Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have reached a preliminary agreement on the joint exploration of a once-disputed section of an undersea hydrocarbons field in the Caspian Sea believed to hold lucrative energy reserves.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on January 21 that President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, supervised the online signing of a memorandum on the mutual intention to jointly explore and develop the Dostluq (Friendship) undersea field.

The field used to be called Kapaz by Baku and Serdar by Ashgabat.

The undersea field was discovered by Soviet explorers in 1986. Experts estimate that the Dostluk hydrocarbons field contains natural gas and at least 50 million tons of oil.

For many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baku and Ashgabat were at odds over the ownership of the undersea field.

The settlement of the issue will help pave the way for a trans-Caspian pipeline -- a multibillion-dollar plan to link Turkmenistan's giant gas fields to Europe via Azerbaijan.