The energy game in the Caspian Sea

June 7, 2011

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(Getty Images/Oleg Nikishin)
A large field of oil rigs outside the city of Baku in Azerbaijan, a country in the top league of oil producers.

Germany announced plans last week to phase out all of its nuclear reactors by 2022. But it’s wishful thinking to believe that renewable energy sources alone can replace these nuclear reactors, not to mention keep up with the world’s growing energy demands.  That leaves us still relying heavily on oil and natural gas.

With massive reserves of these hyrdrocarbons, the Caspian Sea Basin is crucial to the world’s future energy needs. But longstanding rivalries between the region’s five nations -- Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan; unfavorable geography for production and transport; and competing interests of global powers such as Russia, China and the European Union complicate the energy game in the Caspian Sea.

Edward Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, helps us make sense of some of the Caspian's many complexities.