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Caspian States Chase Deal on Dividing Sea’s Riches, Russia Says

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April 22 (Bloomberg) -- The five Caspian Sea states are still far from overcoming an almost quarter-century deadlock over dividing the area’s oil and gas riches, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The littoral states are working on a set of principles for how to demarcate on each country’s share before a summit scheduled in the fall in Russia, Lavrov said today after a meeting in Moscow with his counterparts from Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

The dispute, which dates back to the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, has held back development of deposits of oil and gas. Iran wants the landlocked sea split into five equal parts, while Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan want sectors corresponding to the length of each country’s shore, cutting Iran’s share to 13 percent.

“We reviewed the work on the convention about the legal status of the Caspian and note significant progress, including what we achieved during today’s negotiations,” Lavrov said. “We’ve never planned, though, to finalize work on the new convention before the summit.”

The Caspian may hold as many as 48 billion barrels of oil, half the proven reserves of the United Arab Emirates, according to the U.S. Energy Department. It has an estimated 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, comparable to the reserves of Saudi Arabia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net Torrey Clark, Paul Abelsky

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