DATESPhase 1: Spring 2007
Phase 2: Summer 2010
CREDITSPhase 2 Team:
Project appears in Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism.
Project appears in Fuel, Alphabet City Series.
Phase 1 of this project was done as a M.ARCH Thesis at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. Mason White was the Advisor.
The Caspian Sea lies at the frontier of global off shore oil operations. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the world’s largest inland water body and the oil beneath it has been caught in the turmoil of shifting global powers. The 1947 site of the world’s first off shore oil platform, extraction in the Caspian went dormant in the 60s as the Soviet regime refocused on newer, more easily exploitable fields. But in 1991, the sea was suddenly available, a largely untapped reservoir that attracted a collection of major and minor actors. The United States, the European Union, regional powers, oil companies, international financial institutions and nationalist movements anticipated the opportunities latent in the Caspian’s seabed.
Before these opportunities could be realized, however, the redivision of the sea amongst its new claimants required resolution. The three new littoral states - Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan – inserted their claims into what had been a stable agreement between Russia and Iran. While dispute over the contested territory continues, it is certain that rigs will be installed, pipelines will flow, and the oil will be exploited. Even as this occurs, it is increasingly clear that the petroleum economy and its associated operations have a limited lifespan. The Caspian will remain beyond that moment when the last barrel of oil leaves the sea bed.
Is it possible to extend the momentum generated by the oil operations with a strategy that envisions the post-oil future of the sea? Is it possible to plan for this moment as a new phase in the life of the sea, rather than passively anticipating a post-industrial wasteland?