Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:00

NATO’s Energy Security Policy Put to the Caspian Test

Written by  Nathan R. Grison
As a bridge between the Middle East, the former Soviet republics, and the Euro-Atlantic zone, the Caspian Sea is increasingly at the center of the global geopolitical and commercial game. In addition to its strategic location, the Caspian Sea, according to analysts, could contain between 6 and 10 percent of the world’s gas reserves, and from 2 to 6 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Defined in 1921 as an Irano-Soviet sea, the Caspian rapidly became a source of tension after the fall of the USSR. The increased number of littoral states, rising from two to five, made it necessary to redraw national sea borders and, maybe even more importantly, to redistribute the ownership of the resources lying under the Caspian seabed. As a regional agreement was never reached, each country has started granting permits for the extraction of hydrocarbons in what it considers to be its territorial waters. These conflicting claims recently led to a generalized and alarming military buildup across the region. As a result, in the past several years a number of armed incidents have been reported that have contributed to further destabilizing an already volatile region.