Russian and Kazakhstan Reach Agreement on Caspian Fields

Kazakhstan and Russia have agreed to sign a bilateral treaty to demarcate the North Caspian Sea border to end disputes over offshore oil fields. The treaty is expected to be ratified May 15, 2002 according to Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev. Tokayev said Kazakhstan will have jurisdiction over the Kurmangazy and Khvalynskoye oil fields while Russia will get Centralnoye and thus have an equal amount of Caspian oil reserves. "We believe this is a very fair decision," Tokayev said.

The bilateral agreement will be signed during the visit to Moscow by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev May 12 -15, Tokayev said. The Caspian countries - Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan - have been trying to forge a multilateral agreement to settle conflicting claims to the sea reserves since the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Last month leaders of the Caspian nations met in Turkmenistan 's capital Ashgabad and failed to achieve any agreement.