Muddied Waters: The Crisis of the Legal Regime of the Caspian Sea, the Actors, and Its Impact on the Global Oil and Natural Gas Industry

Bridget Joyce


In the modern era, rule of the Caspian Sea has mainly been shared between two countries, the Soviet Union and Iran. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, three newly independent states claimed territorial borders extending out into the Sea: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. These new countries sought the wealth that could raise them out of infancy from the Sea’s oil and natural gas resources. Yet, these claims were not without dispute. Over the past two decades states have debated for their regime preferences and nearly come to military confrontation over disputed fields. I examine the customary law and preferences within the region as well as the influence of global powers in establishing their desired legal regime. My resulting predictions will serve to forecast the imminent regional geopolitical climate. The effect of such circumstances will impact the world energy industry and has the potential to boost the leveraging power of specific countries in the global political arena.

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