The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on January 21 that President Aliyev and his Turkmen counterpart, Berdy Mukhammedov, supervised the online signing of a memorandum (MoU)on the mutual intention to jointly explore and develop the Dostluq (Friendship) undersea field.
The undersea field was discovered by Soviet explorers in 1986. Experts estimate that the Dostluk hydrocarbons field contains natural gas and at least 50 million tons of oil. For years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baku and Ashgabat were at odds over the ownership of the undersea field. A series of United States diplomatic cables, released by Wikileaks, detailed how the dispute had devolved in 2008 into personal insults between the two leaders and gunboats harassing oil exploration vessels.
The settlement of the issue will help pave the way for a trans-Caspian pipeline — a multibillion-dollar plan to link Turkmenistan’s giant gas fields to Europe via Azerbaijan.