Iran Opposes Seabed Pipelines in Caspian Sea

A04810414.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran voiced strong opposition against plans to lay pipelines on the seabed of the Caspian Sea, warning that the move would cause irreparable environmental pollution in the world’s biggest lake.

“We do not support such plans, taking into account the negative impacts on the sea ecology,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari said on the sidelines of the 23rd meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral states’ working group.

Meantime, The senior diplomat said Iran supports traditional export routes.

“The Caspian Sea’s environment should not be jeopardized as there are Iranian and Russian directions to transport energy resources from Caspian area,” he stated.

The Caspian Sea is of grave importance to its littoral states – Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan – due to its vast oil and gas reserves.

The body of water, however, is polluted by industrial emissions, toxic and radioactive wastes, agricultural run-off, sewage and oil leaks resulting from extraction and refining.

The Caspian environment has also been plagued by a proposal to build The Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline to transfer energy to Europe.

In cooperation with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the five littoral states signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea in 2003.

Article 2 of the convention calls for the protection of the Caspian environment from all sources of pollution, including “the protection, preservation, restoration and sustainable and rational use of the biological resources of the Caspian Sea.”

The parties to the convention are therefore urged to prevent and reduce seabed activities and dumping.

A particular challenge for littoral countries will be addressing the potential consequences of the recent growth in oil and gas production. In 2004, regional oil production reached roughly 1.9 million barrels per day, and other oil supplies transit the region via ship and pipeline.

“The five Caspian countries’ experts have already agreed 60-70% of the project on Convention on Caspian Sea’s legal status and the countries are interested in hastening that process. Already in October-November Baku is going to have the third summit of the Caspian countries’ heads,” Safari said.

Safari arrived in the Azeri capital, Baku, on Thursday to attend the 23rd meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral states’ working group.

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