TurkeyPalaceTurkey’s president moves into world’s biggest palace costing £384 million
The Telegraph online
5 November 2014

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s new residence is four times the size of Versailles, comfortably exceeding the grandeur of Louis XIV of France. The new president has been accused of behaving like a “sultan” after he installed himself in the biggest residential palace in the world, built for a price tag of £384 million.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan now resides in the White Palace, which was constructed in breach of court orders in protected forest land in the capital, Ankara. Boasting 1,000 rooms covering a total floor area of 3.1 million square feet, the palace is four times the size of Versailles, allowing Mr. Erdogan to exceed the residential grandeur of Louis XIV, the “Sun King” of France.

Inside the palace, a majestic hallway leads up to a sweeping staircase. The quixotic architectural style seems to cross the Ottoman and Seljuk traditions with that of a modern Chinese railway station. The bathrooms have silk wallpaper and the whole edifice is surrounded by a forested park. Hundreds of trees were felled to make way for the president’s new home. Mr. Erdogan, who designed much of the White Palace himself, has also taken the precaution of installing an underground bunker.

Mehmet Simsek, the Turkish finance minister, said the total cost of the complex amounted to £384 million – twice the earlier estimate.

TurkeyPalace02Critics of Mr. Erdogan, who won the presidency in August, denounced the project as a folie de grandeur. “The so-called sultan has built this for himself in a country where three million people are without work,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s party. “You cut down hundreds of trees to build yourself this palace.”

Mr. Erdogan served as prime minister for 11 years before ascending to the presidency. Although his AK party does not hold the two thirds majority in parliament required to amend the constitution, his ambition is to turn this traditionally ceremonial post into the new centre of power in Turkey.

Unlike all previous presidents, Mr. Erdogan routinely chairs cabinet meetings. He has also spent £115 million on a new presidential jet, designed and supplied by Airbus to his own specification.

As for critics of his new palace, Mr. Erdogan said: “No one can prevent the completion of this building. If they are powerful enough, let them come and demolish it.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/11210083/Turkeys-president-moves-into-worlds-biggest-palace-costing-384-million.html

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You really can’t begin to understand conflicts in the Middle East without this specific issue — Oil. See my previous posts about the Caspian Sea.

PM Davutoglu calls TANAP project ‘dream come true’
World Bulletin online
19 September 2014

tanap-nabucco
Davutoglu describes the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline as a peace project connecting Caucasus to Balkans. The Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, TANAP – a pipeline that will transport gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field to Europe through Turkey – will be a dream come true, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday ahead of his official visit to Azerbaijan.

Following Davutoglu’s upcoming talks on Friday on bilateral relations and regional and international developments with Azerbaijani officials, the TANAP project foundations will be laid Saturday which Davutoglu described as a ‘peace project’ that will connect the Caucasus with the Balkans.

An estimated 6 billion cubic meters of gas will be delivered to Turkey and 10 billion cubic meters to Europe via the TANAP pipeline which is projected to be opened in 2018 and in which Turkey has a 30 percent share in the project.

Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz and Azerbaijan’s Minister of Industry and Energy Natig Aliyev signed the memorandum of understanding on the TANAP on 26 May, 2014.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/144684/pm-davutoglu-calls-tanap-project-dream-come-true

For more indepth, historical and detailed information, please see:

Turkey and the new energy politics of the Black Sea region
Black Sea News
25 February 2013

Eurasia-s-tit

Mitat CELIKPALA,
Associate Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University, Istanbul

Turkey signed two significant energy agreements at the end of 2011. As a consequence, these accords set off a new competition for natural gas-centered energy projects around Turkey. Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Iran and the European Union are the main actors in this contest. This paper aims to assess all the related and ensuing developments in the Black Sea Region through the lenses of Turkey’s role, strategy and priorities….

BotasProjeE-s

central asian pipelines 3

Conclusion

In sum, the Turkey-centric energy game in the region embracing the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Middle East and Europe is reminiscent of the 2004- 2008 period, during which energy prices and the competition for constructing alternative pipelines peaked.

transportation-final-s

http://www.blackseanews.net/en/read/57572

Shades of Russia and Vladimir Putin

Turkey-and-Surrounding-CountriesEver since August 10, 2014 when the former Prime Minister was elected President of Turkey I have been more interested in the history and politics of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (pronounced ray’-chep tay’-ipp err’-do-wan).

He has a long history to study, actually. While he and his political party claim to be “secular” in their thinking about Turkey’s government and its future, his past actions and relationships declare a decided Islamic viewpoint. (His religion is Sunni Muslim.)

Take a look at this informative article from BBC news:

ErdoganObamaAndWivesProfile: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish leader intends to enhance the powers of the presidency, which he could hold until 2023.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is arguably the most successful leader in Turkey’s democratic history. After 11 years as prime minister, he will now become his country’s first directly-elected president, in what has been until now a largely ceremonial role.

But critics have increasingly accused the 60-year-old leader of polarising the country – by brooking no dissent and harboring a secret agenda to turn Turkey into a religious society.

He has dominated the political landscape since 2002, steering his Islamist-leaning Justice and Development (AK) Party party to three general election victories.

For the complete article, see http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-13746679

For much, much more on his personal and political life, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recep_Tayyip_Erdo%C4%9Fan

Then just today, this somewhat troubling article appeared in my inbox:

Have Plans For The Antichrist Confederacy Just Been Announced In Turkey?
Prophecy News Watch online
September 04, 2014

QaradawiIn an amazing announcement that just came out today and was published throughout the Muslim world, including even CNN Arabic Version, The Chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi whose union represents the largest body of Muslim scholars worldwide and on their behalf just announced in Turkey that:

“The Caliphate in today’s age must be established through a number of several states that are governed by Shariah and supported by both, the rulers and the people in the form of a federation or confederation and not as it was in the past.” (emphasis mine)

By this, the Muslim union of scholars lead by Qaradawi is setting up the theological precedence by announcing that a future confederacy of Muslim nations must and will be established and centered in the land of the Muslim Caliphate in Turkey.

What Qaradawi is speaking of should be seriously noted since the interpretation of the prophecy of a future confederacy of ten-nations is found in four major passages of Scripture and is a determinative issue in any system of prophetic interpretation and are the key to the total prophetic outlook regarding this emerging Antichrist confederacy of different states mentioned in at least four major Scripture passages (Dan 2:31-35, 40-45; 7:7-8, 19-24; Rev 13:1-2; 17:3, 7, 12-16).

These passages either directly or by implication prophesy a ten-kingdom confederation, which will be an important aspect of the end-time political situation.

What we see here is the beginning embryo and birth of a grand idea set by between Erdogan and the spiritual head of the Sunni Muslim world in which its declared that such confederacy for the Caliphate will be established in Istanbul, Turkey as the center for all these different states…..

Qaradawi is currently paving the way for Turkey to ultimately invade Egypt… “He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushitese in submission.” (Daniel 11:42)

Read the entire article at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/September04/043.html

After reading all that, I searched for more information about Qaradawi and found this recent article (video) online:

Al-Qaradawi supports, praises Erdogan

Social media activists circulated a video of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, calling for supporting Recep Tayyib Erdogan in the last presidential elections which Erdogan recently won.

Al-Qaradawi said Erdogan is supported by Allah, Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) and the righteous believers; while the all angels are his backers. He also described Istanbul as the capital of the Islamic Caliphate. (emphasis mine)

See more at:  http://www.el-balad.com/1106255#sthash.iQgR6yBe.dpuf

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on activities and developments coming out of Turkey in the days ahead.

(Update 29 June 2014 from Debka File online)

iraqsyriaFullMid East is sizzling: Armed US drones over Baghdad, Saudi, Jordanian tanks deploy
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis June 28, 2014 (IDT)

The Obama administration announced Friday, June 27, that unmanned aerial vehicles flying over Baghdad would henceforth be armed in order to defend the US Embassy in the Green Zone. The embassy was originally assigned the tasks of guardian of Iraq’s central government and symbol of post-Saddam national unity. These roles have remained out of reach ever since the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003.

Today, the armed drones overhead are reduced to holding back the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and its local Sunni allies from overrunning the Green Zone and seizing the embassy, most of whose 5,000 staff were evacuated as a precaution.

President Barack Obama has again decreed that no US soldiers will take part in combat in Iraq. Therefore, American military personnel on the ground will be there to guide the drones to their targets.

Those targets were defined Saturday, June 28, by Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, as striking at ISIS leaders and defending Iraq’s strategic facilities. He did not elaborate.

Debkafile reports that he was referring to the Haditha dam on the Euphrates. ISIS fighters have been battered the town of Haditha on and off for some days.

Its dam is the key to the water supply of most of Iraq, including Baghdad. With its capture, Al Qaeda’s affiliates will have gained control of northern Iraq’s oil refineries and pipeline networks.

US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jordan Friday laid out another piece of the Iraq-Syria imbroglio. He estimated that the Syrian rebel recruits enlisted from among the nearly one million Syrian refugees sheltering in Jordan could be deployed in Iraq for fighting ISIS.

His words were accompanied by the Obama administration’s application to Congress for half a billion dollars to arm and train such a force.

President Obama is therefore in the midst of yet another U-turn on the Syrian-Iraqi war scene – this one involving Israel too.

(Continued)
http://www.debka.com/article/24042/Mid-East-is-sizzling-Armed-US-drones-over-Baghdad-Saudi-Jordanian-tanks-deploy

———————————–
(Here’s some information you probably won’t read in the US mainline media. Long but well worth reading.)

King Abdullah calls up Saudi armed forces on high preparedness. Egyptian troops ready to fly to kingdom.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 26, 2014 (IDT)

Thursday, June 26, the day before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in Riyadh, King Abdullah summoned a National Security Council meeting “upon the current security events in the region, especially in Iraq,” and ordered “all necessary measures to protect the kingdom against terrorist threats.” This meant a general call-up of military units for a high level of preparedness.

Debkafile’s military sources disclose that Egypt is assembling an expeditionary commando force to fly to Saudi Arabia and bolster its border defenses.

This flurry of Saudi-Egyptian military steps comes in the wake of intelligence gathered by Saudi reconnaissance planes showing Iraqi Al Qaeda-linked Sunni fighters (ISIS) heading for the Saudi border and aiming to seize control of the Iraqi-Saudi crossing at Ar Ar (pop: 200,000).

ISIS and its Sunni allies are still on the march after capturing Iraq’s border crossings with Syria and Jordan earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Kerry warned Mideast nations against taking new military action in Iraq that might heighten sectarian divisions. By then, he had been overtaken by a rush of events, as Debkafile reported this morning.

When the first of the 300 military advisers US President Barack Obama promised the Iraqi government arrived in Baghdad Wednesday, June 25, Iranian and Saudi Arabian arms shipments were already in full flow to opposing sides in embattled Iraq, Debkafile’s military sources report.

At least two cargo planes from bases in Iran were landing daily at Baghdad’s military airport, carrying 150 tons of military equipment. More than 1,000 tons were flown in this past week alone.

Tehran has replicated for the Iraqi army the routine it established for Bashar Assad’s army, furnishing its needs on a daily basis as per its commanders’ requests. Those requests come before a joint Iranian-Iraqi headquarters set up at the Iraqi high command in Baghdad for approval and the assigning of priorities for shipment.

At the same time, Saudi arms are flowing to the Iraqi Sunni tribes fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) against the Iraqi army and the Shiite Nouri al-Maliki’s government.

They are coming in both overland and by airlift. Saudi arms convoys are crossing the border into Iraq with Saudi and Jordanian air force cover and heading north up to the Al-Qa’im district near the Syrian border. There, Sunni and ISIS fighters, after capturing this key Anbar district, have begun refurbishing the bases and runways at H-2, once one of Saddam Hussein’s largest airbases. Situated 350 kilometers west of Baghdad, this air base has two long runways and hangars for fighter planes and helicopters.

Debkafile’s military sources disclose that, on Tuesday June 24, unmarked civilian cargo planes landed at the base, bringing arms shipments from Saudi Arabia.

The response was swift. Syrian warplanes, on their first bombing mission inside Iraq, tried to damage the partially repaired runways at H-2 to prevent any more Saudi air shipments from landing.

Military sources in Washington confirmed Wednesday June 25 that those air strikes were conducted by the Syrian Air Force “in Anbar province” and left at least 57 people dead and 120 wounded – most of them Iraqi civilians. They declined to say what was attacked, referring only to ISIS-related targets.

That incident was a striking demonstration of the tight operational sync between the Iranian command centers in Damascus and Baghdad, which are attached respectively to the high commands of the Syrian and Iraqi armies.

This coordination offers Tehran the flexibility for its command centers in both Arab capitals to send Iranian drones aloft from Syrian or Iraqi airbases to feed those centers with the intelligence they need for the strategic planning of military operations to be conducted by the Syrian and Iraqi armies.

Iranian command centers in Baghdad and Damascus are fully equipped therefore to decide which Syrian, Iraqi or Hizballah force carries out a planned operation in either Syria or Iraq. Both are now pushing back against further ISIS advances towards its goal of a Sunni caliphate spanning both countries.

This is just what US Secretary of State John Kerry meant when he said in Brussels Wednesday June 25, after two days of talks in Iraq, that “the war in Iraq is being widened.”

He had good reason to sound worried. Shortly before he spoke, the first group of US military personnel, out of the 300 that President Obama had promised, had arrived in Baghdad. But neither Tehran nor Riyadh had consulted Washington before they organized heavy arms shipments to their respective allies in Iraq.

The Iraqi battle arena is become a veritable Babel of war. So far, six countries are involved in varying degrees: the US, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

http://www.debka.com/article/24034/King-Abdullah-calls-up-Saudi-armed-forces-on-high-preparedness-Egyptian-troops-ready-to-fly-to-kingdom

Here’s an update to an earlier post (US power grid problems from multiple threats) from June 10, 2011: https://tapister.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/us-power-grid-problems-from-multiple-threats/ Read that post first for more background and links.

 A view of the U.S. power grid from inside of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's command center in Taylor, Texas. REUTERS

A view of the U.S. power grid from inside of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s command center in Taylor, Texas. REUTERS

Small-scale power grid attack could cause nationwide blackout, study says
FoxNews.com online
Published March 13, 2014

The U.S. could suffer a national blackout if attackers knocked out just nine of the country’s electric-transmission substations on a hot summer day, according to a previously unreported study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The study concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the agency’s research.

The commission concluded that the three electrical systems that serve the entire nation could go dark if as few as nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations were knocked out in the East, the West and in Texas, according to the report.

“This would be an event of unprecedented proportions,” Ross Baldick, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, told the newspaper.

According to Wall Street Journal, study’s results have been known for months by the White House, Congress and officials at federal agencies, who were briefed by then-FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and others at the commission.

Wellinghoff has voiced concerns about an April 2013 attack on Pacific Gas & Electric’s transmission substation in Metcalf, Calif., that lasted 52 minutes and knocked out 17 transformers.

The attack started when at least one person entered an underground vault to cut telephone cables, then attackers fired more than 100 shots, causing millions in damage. Workers were able to avert a blackout but it took them 27 days to repair the damage.

No arrests have been made in the case.

A memo prepared at the commission for Wellinghoff before he briefed senior officials last year said “the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer” if attackers knocked out just nine substations.

The California attack “demonstrates that it does not require sophistication to do significant damage to the U.S. grid,” according to the memo, which was written by Leonard Tao, FERC’s director of external affairs, and reviewed by The Journal.

The memo suggested that an attack-induced blackout could be particularly long, in part because each of the three regional electric systems—the West, the East and Texas—have limited interconnections, limiting their ability to assist each other in the event of an emergency, The Journal reported.

Executives at several utility companies told the newspaper they are boosting security at their facilities. Virginia-based Dominion Resources Inc., said it planned to spend $300 million to $500 million within seven years to improve security capabilities.

Cheryl LaFleur, acting chairwoman of the FERC, said in a statement released late Wednesday that The Journal’s publication of “sensitive material about the grid crosses the line from transparency to irresponsibility, and gives those who would do us harm a roadmap to achieve malicious designs.”

“We take seriously our obligation to the American people to protect the reliability and security of our nation’s energy infrastructure and to enhance its resilience,” LaFleur said.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/13/us-risks-national-blackout-from-power-grid-attack-study-says/

https://tapister.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/us-power-grid-problems-from-multiple-threats/

Microbes on floating ocean plastics: Uncovering the secret world of the ‘Plastisphere’
24 Feb 2014
ScienceDaily.com

MicrobesOnPlastiphereSEA Education Association scientist Greg Boyd holds recovered foam floats containing invertebrates and microbial biofilm. New research being presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting delves deeper into the role microbial communities living on plastic marine debris play in the ocean ecosystem. Credit: Erik Zettler, SEA

Scientists are revealing how microbes living on floating pieces of plastic marine debris affect the ocean ecosystem, and the potential harm they pose to invertebrates, humans and other animals. New research being presented here today delves deeper into the largely unexplored world of the “Plastisphere” — an ecological community of microbial organisms living on ocean plastic that was first discovered last year.

When scientists initially studied the Plastisphere, they found that at least 1,000 different types of microbes thrive on these tiny plastic islands, and that they might pose a risk to larger animals, including invertebrates and humans. The original studies also showed that the Plastisphere’s inhabitants included bacteria known to cause diseases in animals and humans.

Since then, researchers have been trying to figure out why these potentially dangerous bacteria live on the Plastisphere, how they got there and how they are affecting the surrounding ocean.

New evidence suggests that “super-colonizers” form detectable clusters on the plastic in minutes. Other findings indicate that some types of harmful bacteria favor plastics more than others. And, scientists are exploring if fish or other ocean animals may be helping these pathogens thrive by ingesting the plastic. That could allow bacteria to acquire additional nutrients as they pass through the guts of the fish, said Tracy Mincer, an associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass.

Revealing this information could help scientists better understand how much of a potential threat these harmful bacteria pose and the role the Plastisphere plays in the larger ocean ecosystem, including its potential to alter nutrients in the water. That information could also help reduce the impact of plastic pollution in the ocean — for instance, if plastics manufacturers learned how to make their products so they degrade at an optimal rate, Mincer said.

“One of the benefits of understanding the Plastisphere right now and how it interacts with biota in general, is that we are better able to inform materials scientists on how to make better materials and, if they do get out to sea, have the lowest impact possible,” said Mincer, who discovered the Plastisphere last year along with Linda Amaral-Zettler at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Erik Zettler at the SEA Education Association, both also in Woods Hole.

The Plastisphere team is presenting their latest research on these communities today at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, which is co-sponsored by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, The Oceanography Society and the American Geophysical Union.

Other new results include discoveries about how the plastic is colonized and how it interacts with other marine organisms. Yet additional findings shed light on the similarities and differences between Plastisphere communities in different locations and on different types of plastic. This research could help scientists determine the age of plastic floating in the ocean, which could help them figure out how it breaks down in the water. It could also potentially aid in determining where the plastic debris came from, and how the plastic and the microbes that live on board could impact organisms that come into contact with them, the scientists said.

“It is clear,” said Amaral-Zettler, “that the Plastisphere definitely has a function out there in the ocean” and these experiments seek to quantify what it is.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224171658.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28Latest+Science+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

Related information on the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, aka Trash Vortex:
Great Pacific Garbage Patch: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch
The Trash Votex: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/pollution/trash-vortex/

Through the Gyre Infographic: http://freshkillspark.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/the-great-pacific-garbage-patch/
(Click on infographic image to enlarge.)

PacificGarbagetrans0509throughthegyre

I’m still interested in the Caspian Sea. (See https://tapister.wordpress.com/category/caspian-sea-oil/) While oil and gas are still my primary interests, today I’m also curious about water. Who owns the water in the Caspian Sea? Can Iran just siphon it off, without getting permission from the other littoral states? Or the major gas/oil conglomerates operating there? I’ve done an internet search about it and really didn’t find anything that addresses that question. Here’s some of what I did find today.

Its Great Lake Shriveled, Iran Confronts Crisis of Water Supply
New York Times online
JAN. 30, 2014

LakeUrmiaIranLAKE URMIA, Iran — An abandoned ship rusts in the mud on the south shore of Lake Urmia, where only 5 percent of the water remains, Iranian environmental officials say. Morteza Nikoubazl for The New York Times.

After driving for 15 minutes over the bottom of what was once Iran’s largest lake, a local environmental official stepped out of his truck, pushed his hands deep into his pockets and silently wandered into the great dry plain, as if searching for water he knew he would never find.

Just an hour earlier, on a cold winter day here in western Iran, the official, Hamid Ranaghadr, had recalled how as recently as a decade ago, cruise ships filled with tourists plied the lake’s waters in search of flocks of migrating flamingos.

Now, the ships are rusting in the mud and the flamingos fly over the remains of the lake on their way to more hospitable locales. According to figures compiled by the local environmental office, only 5 percent of the water remains.

Iran is facing a water shortage potentially so serious that officials are making contingency plans for rationing in the greater Tehran area, home to 22 million, and other major cities around the country. President Hassan Rouhani has identified water as a national security issue, and in public speeches in areas struck hardest by the shortage he is promising to “bring the water back.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/world/middleeast/its-great-lake-shriveled-iran-confronts-crisis-of-water-supply.html?_r=0

Iran’s parliament approves project on transfer of water from Caspian Sea
Trend online magazine
Jan 23, 2014

Iranian parliament has approved the project on transfer of water from the Caspian Sea to the deserts in the country’s central parts, Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said, Mehr News Agency reported on Jan. 23. The minister noted that funds have been allocated from Iran’s state budget for this project.

Commenting on the Lake Urmia revival project the minister added that a committee was created for saving the lake. The committee will be chaired by Iranian First Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri.

In April 2012 the former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended the foundation-laying of an irrigation system designed for transferring of water from the Caspian Sea. However Iranian MPs and some economic experts considered this project ineffective and demanded suspension of its implementation, after which construction was delayed.

The project for transfer of the Caspian Sea waters to the central regions of Iran includes: construction of hydroelectric power stations, a desalination plant, pumping stations, power lines, water pipes and tanks, according to the message.

The headquarters of Khatam-ol-Anbia, affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Guard Corps (IRGC) will control the project’s realization, according to the message.

http://en.trend.az/news/politics/2233429.html

Deputy FM in Astana to Participate in Caspian Sea Working Group
Tasnimnews.com
January 29, 2014

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Deputy Foreign Minister for Asian and Pacific Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour left Tehran for Kazakhstan capital city, Astana, Wednesday to participate in the 35th meeting of the special working group of the Caspian Sea.

The working group session on the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea will be held in Astana for two days with the special representatives and deputies minister of the five littoral countries of the Caspian Sea.

The deputy foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan will in the meeting discuss the latest developments regarding the legal regime of the Caspian Sea and prepare a report for the upcoming ministerial meeting due to be held in Russia this spring. Moscow will also host The Caspian Sea Littoral States Summit late in summer.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed water body on earth by area, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea.

The Caspian Sea Convention will determine the territorial rights of littoral states- Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan – as well as other matters related to the world’s largest landlocked body of water.

The Caspian Sea legal regime is based on two agreements signed between Iran and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1921 and 1940. The three new littoral states, established after the collapse of the Soviet Union, have not recognized the prior treaties, triggering a debate on the future status of the sea.

http://www.tasnimnews.com/English/Home/Single/263554

BP Starts Production at West Chirag in Caspian Sea
Wall Street Journal online
Jan. 29, 2014

CaspianOilFieldsLONDON—Oil major BP PLC said Wednesday that production has started at the West Chirag platform of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, completing the Chirag oil project which was sanctioned in 2010.

West Chirag production began from a pre-drilled well called J05 on Jan. 28 and will increase throughout this year as other pre-drilled wells are brought on line, BP said without indicating volumes. However, BP said the new platform has a capacity for 183,000 barrels a day with a gas export capacity of 285 million standard cubic feet a day.

“The startup of Chirag oil project marks a major milestone in the development of the super-giant ACG [Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field],” Gordon Birrell, BP’s Regional President for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey said.

“To date the ACG field has produced over 2.3 billion barrels of oil and with future continual major investments in new technologies and facilities, like the one we have today started up, it will continue to produce as a world-class reservoir for many decades,”, Mr. Birrell added.

BP is operator of the field with a 35.8% interest. Partners in the field include SOCAR with 11.6%, Chevron CVX -4.14% Corp with 11.3%, Inpex Corp with 11%, Statoil AS STL.OS -1.46% A with 8.6%, Exxon Mobil Corp with 8%, TPAO with 6.8%, Itochu 8001.TO +0.56% Corp with 4.3% and ONGC Videsh Ltd. with 2.7%.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304428004579350491065104568

BP Seeks ACG Extension to Maintain Output at Largest Azeri Field
Bloomberg News
Jan 29, 2014

BP Plc (BP/) is seeking to extend its oil contract on the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field beyond 2024 to allow more investment and sustain output at the largest Azeri deposit after its local partner last year said there weren’t such plans.

The Caspian Sea field produced 32.5 million tons of oil in 2013, down from 32.9 million tons. While the new $6 billion West Chirag platform that started output yesterday will help offset natural decline, BP said at least one more is needed by 2021.

“We are talking to State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan about the next phase,” Gordon Birrel, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey manager, said in Baku, the Azeri capital. “But we have no fixed and agreed plans at this point. This field needs investment and at least one more platform to maintain production.”

West Chirag is estimated to produce about 60,000 barrels a day, or 3 million tons, this year, he said. The platform will have at least 14 wells, with six running this year, Birrel said. It’s the largest and most technologically advanced of the eight current platforms in Azerbaijan’s section of the Caspian Sea, he said. The site has a capacity of 183,000 barrels of oil a day.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-29/bp-seeks-acg-extension-to-maintain-output-at-largest-azeri-field.html