|At a Glance:
Azerbaijana nation of Turkic Muslimshas
been an independent republic since the collapse of the Soviet Union
in 1991. Despite a cease-fire, in place since 1994, Azerbaijan has
yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh
enclave (largely populated by Armenians). Azerbaijan has lost almost
20 percent of its territory and must support some 750,000 refugees
and internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict. Corruption
is ubiquitous and the promise of widespread wealth from Azerbaijan's
undeveloped petroleum resources remains largely unfulfilled.
Despite its long history of producing oil, Azerbaijan still possesses
considerable oil and gas deposits. Today, four off-shore oilfields
produce the lion's share of Azerbaijan's output: "Guneshli,"
which yields 57 percent of Azerbaijan's current oil production, "Chirag,"
"Azeri," and "Kapaz." During the Soviet period,
these fields were left largely untapped because of the expense and
difficulty of drilling at great depths under the sea. Since independence,
the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, a twelve-company consortium
dominated by BP-Amoco,
is developing the three largest Azeri oilfields.
from the development of the oilfields, which has already begun, Azerbaijan
continues its explorations for other deposits in the Caspian Sea.
In the part of the Caspian belonging to Azerbaijan, around 24 sites
have been singled out as suitable for drilling.
Current estimates indicate that Azerbaijan's oil production will exceed
45.2 million tons by 2005, exports are expected to exceed 39.7 tons
Population: 7,771,092 (July 2001
Petroleum and natural gas, petroleum products, oilfield equipment;
steel, iron ore, cement; chemicals and petrochemicals; textiles.
Exports: $1.9 billion, 75 percent
oil and gas.
Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Iran
Local scientists consider the Apsheron Peninsula, including Baku,
and the Caspian Sea to be the ecologically most devastated area in
the world because of severe air, water, and soil pollution.
Trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics is
declining in importance while trade is building up with Turkey, Iran,
UAE, and the nations of Europe. Long-term prospects will depend on
world oil prices, the location of new pipelines in the region, and
Azerbaijan's ability to manage its oil wealth.
News Agencies: Azer Taj (government-owned), Kabar-Service
Newspapers: Khalg, Azadlyg, Mukhalifat, Hayat, Bakinsky Rabochy,
Baku, Aydynlig, Millat, Oghuz Eli, Adalat, Istiglal
Sun (English-language), Baku
Source: CIA World Factbook