Watching the World: Caspian hopes head north

With some analysts having calculated that the Caspian Sea holds more than 100 billion boe of oil and gas resources-depending on the volume eventually proven in the massive, shallow-water Kashagan field off Kazakhstan-dreams of a new era of offshore oil and gas production fueling the economic renewal of the region's littoral states are understandable, if, like certain dreams, somewhat Pollyannaish. Most dreams, of course, are fleeting. Azerbaijan, for one, will have grown accustomed to turns of fortune since signing the "Contract of the Century" in 1994. The state's hopes of establishing itself as the hub of a Caspian offshore oil industry, raised and dashed regularly since by mixe...

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