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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08ASHGABAT1067 2008-08-16 06:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ashgabat
Cable title:  

TURKMENISTAN/AZERBAIJAN: U.S. BUSINESSMAN CLAIMS

Tags:   PREL PGOV EPET AJ IR TX 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L ASHGABAT 001067 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EUR/CARC, EEB
ENERGY FOR EKIMOFF/THOMPSON
COMMERCE FOR HUEPER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV EPET AJ IR TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN/AZERBAIJAN: U.S. BUSINESSMAN CLAIMS
MORE THAN ONE GUNBOAT EPISODE

REF: A. ASHGABAT 973

B. ASHGABAT 964

C. ASHGABAT 958

D. ASHGABAT 884

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Sylvia Reed Curran for reasons 1.4(B)
and (D).



1. (C) The AMCIT country manager for Bertling Logistics, a
Houston-based firm that provides logistical support for many
of the foreign oil companies active in Turkmenistan, said
during an August 15 meeting that he has been told that there
has been more than one incident involving Azeri gunboats in
and around Turkmenistan's Caspian block III in recent months.
(NOTE: Turkmenistan's block III contains the Serdar/Kyapaz
and Omar-Osman/Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) fields, whose
possession is disputed by Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. The
Azeri claim line runs through the eastern part of block III
between the Serdar/Kyapaz field and block I, which borders
block III in the east. END NOTE.) Claiming that he received
this information from Canadian oil company Buried Hill, a
client and the company which has a contract with the
Government of Turkmenistan to work block III, he said that in
addition to the April incident that took place in
Turkmenistan's (undisputed) block I, there has been at least
one more incident, in May. In the second episode, the Azeri
gunboats again intercepted a vessel that Buried Hill had
hired to do some research in block III related to its plans
to begin drilling in the first quarter of 2009. Buried Hill
told him this time calls were made from Ashgabat to Baku, and
that the Azeri vessels subsequently backed off. According to
Buried Hill, there were also Iranian vessels in the area at
the time of the interception.



2. (C) The Bertling country manager noted that there are
rumors and strong speculation circulating among foreign oil
firms that BP, the company drilling in ACG, may have drilled
a diagonal spur off its main bore hole toward the
Serdar/Kyapaz field. This, he suggested, would explain why
the Iranian vessels were in the area -- and why the Azeri
coast guard appears to be so jumpy about any vessels that are
not clearly in transit. However, he added, these incidents
are also continuing to underline to both Turkmenistan and the
foreign companies working in its Caspian blocks that there is
not the naval capacity to protect hydrocarbon rigs and
infrastructure in Turkmen waters.



3. (C) COMMENT: The country manager could not give
specifics -- either dates, the number of vessels involved in
the May incident or the name of the research vessel hired by
Buried Hill involved in the second incident. However, this
information would go far in explaining the two very different
perceptions: while the Azeris may feel that they did their
part in calling off their gunboats in the second incident,
the fact that it occurred at all -- and that Turkmenistan was
incapable of responding -- undoubtedly would be grating to
President Berdimuhamedov. The manager's suggestion that BP
might be drilling diagonally toward the Serdar field would
also help to explain why Turkmenistan's officials are
continuing to claim that "they (the Azeris) are stealing our
gas." END SUMMARY.
CURRAN