Turkmenistan has held its first naval drills on the Caspian Sea amid a dispute with Azerbaijan over ownership of a section of the sea believed to hold lucrative energy reserves.
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of 371,000 km2 and a volume of 78,200 km3. It is in an endorheic basin (it has no outflows) and is bounded to the north by Russia, to the south by Iran, western Azerbaijan, and eastern Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. (View Map)
In June, the two sides accused each other of provocations and vowed to defend their rights over a section of an undersea oil field called Kapaz by Baku and Serdar by Ashgabat.
Experts have estimated that the region could be holding upward of 50 million tons of oil.
Tensions over how the inland Caspian Sea should be divided among the five surrounding states, which also include Russia, Iran, and Kazakhstan, began after the 1991 Soviet collapse.
The naval drills held on September 5 near Turkmenistan's western seaport of Turkmenbashi involved an exercise in repelling a naval attack on ships and oil refineries.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AP
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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