The recent discovery of a sizable, new natural gas field in the Caspian Sea is giving officials in Azerbaijan additional reason to cheer. But the discovery also is highlighting a dilemma for Baku – one in which the abundance of gas is currently offset by a dearth of export capacity.
It’s a problem that Azerbaijani officials are happy to have. The new gas field, discovered off the Absheron Peninsula, contains an estimated 350 billion cubic meters of gas and 45 million tons of condensate. An ebullient President Ilham Aliyev predicted on September 9 that the discovery will help turn Azerbaijan into “a large-scale gas exporter” within “several decades.” Some analysts agree, saying that Azerbaijan eventually could export more gas than oil.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter in Baku and a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation-Azerbaijan.