The prosperity of former republics of the USSR, which collapsed in December 1991, has primarily been driven by the development of energy resources in the post-Soviet era, notably around the Caspian. Out of the debris of the Soviet Union have arisen four petro-states ringing the Caspian – the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
The possibilities there have focused the attention of investors for the last twenty years. More than a decade ago Vice President Dick Cheney, then Halliburton CEO, remarked, "I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."
While all four nations have their allure, none has gone further to attract Western investment than Azerbaijan. In September 1994 Azeri President Heydar Aliyev signed a $7.4 billion "deal of the century with 11 Western oil companies to develop a number of sites in both onshore and offshore Azerbaijan, including Chirag and the offshore Guneshli oil fields.
And the present? Future?
On 2 February State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) first vice president Hoshbakht Yusifzade said during an interview with the local press that hydrocarbon reserves in Azerbaijan are now estimated to be 10 billion tons oil equivalent (toe), remarking, "So far, recoverable oil and gas condensate reserves in Azerbaijan have been estimated at 2 billion tons, and gas at 2.55 billion cubic meters (bcm.) Now, oil and condensate…