Russian President Vladimir Putin just spent the weekend of May 19-21 in Ashgabat where he reached an agreement in principle to increase Russian gas purchases from Turkmenistan. It is yet another indicator of Russia's renewed interest in Central Asia since Putin assumed control. Russia and Turkmenistan have reached an agreement in principle to renew and expand their December 1999 agreement to export 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) for calendar year 2000 and increase this figure by 10 bcm per year for three to four years until import levels reach 50-60 bcm per year. But Russia's real target in Central Asia is neither Turkmenistan nor Uzbekistan but Kazakhstan.
Continue reading "Russia and Central Asia: Playing the Turkmenistan Card" »
On the natural gas front, all signs are "go" for Azerbaijani gas from the offshore Shah-Deniz deposit to find purchasers in Europe. The head of the European Union's TACIS (Technical Assistance for the Commonwealth of Independent States) program, visiting Baku, declared earlier this month that anticipated industrial growth in southwestern Europe would assure a stable long-term market for this gas. Norway's Statoil, which owns a 25.5 per cent share in the Shah-Deniz consortium and has experience with deep-water gas development in the North Sea, is proposing a strategic partnership to the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). In particular, it seeks to organize and operate, together with SOCAR, the country's midstream gas development. Significant investment in Azerbaijan's Soviet-era gas infrastructure would be necessary.
Continue reading "How Shah-Deniz Is Changing the Equation (1/9)" »
The one formal organization is the Central Asian Economic Union which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The leaders of these countries have concluded several agreements on expanding economic cooperation, but these will remain a dead letter until the Uzbek som is made fully convertible. The two multilateral formations are not embodied in formal organizations. One is a coalescence of energy-related issues bringing together Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, in a geo-strategic sense, as a north-south axis along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. The other is a coalescence of counterinsurgency-related issues bringing together Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, also in a geo-strategic sense, as an east-west axis along the southern border of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Continue reading "Russia, Turkey and Iran: An Eternal Triangle" »
Fall-out continues from the Shah-Deniz gas find offshore from Azerbaijan. Several weeks ago, part one of this series examined developments around the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP) from Turkmenistan, and Iran's problems with Turkmenistani gas imports. The evident withdrawal of PSG from the TCGP has brought to the surface many subterranean possibilities that have been silently percolating. Whereas a few weeks ago, it was generally thought that Turkmenistan would be left only with Gazprom as a gas-buyer and would have to take whatever price it was offered, other suitors have presented themselves.
Continue reading "How Shah-Deniz Is Changing the Equation (2/9)" »
This week I continue my analysis of the fall-out from the gas discovery in the Shah-Deniz deposit offshore on Azerbaijan, which, as explained earlier in this series, has led Turkmenistan to turn away from the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP) project.
Continue reading "How Shah-Deniz Is Changing the Equation (4/9)" »
In an official announcement, the government of Turkmenistan put its cards on the table concerning the diplomatic position that it plans to take on the demarcation of the Caspian Sea and the division of its resources at the summit meeting that will take place on March 8-9 in the port city of Turkmenbashi. This column analyses the content and significance of that announcement in the context of new developments in the region.
Continue reading "New Configurations around the Caspian (1/4)" »
The selection several weeks ago of Italy's ENI as operator of the Offshore Kazakhstan International Operating Company (OKIOC), which is exploring the vast Kashagan deposit offshore from Kazakhstan, came as a surprise to most observers. Eni was a dark horse in OKIOC and not one of the front-runners to become operator.
Continue reading "New Configurations around the Caspian Sea (4/4)" »
SUMMARY: Earlier this month India's Prime Minister Atel Behari Vajpayee became only the second Indian head of government to visit Tehran since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the first in over seven years. At the head of a large delegation, he signed seven cooperation accords on energy, water, trade and science but sought to downplay efforts at bilateral defense cooperation.
Continue reading "The Indo–Iranian Rappochement: Not Just Natural Gas Anymore" »
The effect of events in Afghanistan on public opinion in Central Asia is difficult to gauge. Yet this public opinion is already in general either exhausted by economic hardship or increasingly discontent with political repression. That very situation is what presents the danger that the U.S. rapprochement with Central Asian regimes will negatively affect its long-term interests.
Continue reading "Central Asian energy and security in light of the Afghanistan crisis" »
Just when it looked the Central Asian countries were facing the growing joint political hegemony of Russia and China in the region, the events of September 11 opened the door to an increased and indefinite-term U.S. military presence.
Continue reading "U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan: Implications for Central Asia" »
In late 2000, the EU and Russia began extensive high-level commercial talks about the prospects for European importation of Russian energy resources over the course of coming decades. However, Russia's failure to pursue adequate investment in its natural gas industry would require significant capital outlay from the European side in order to increase imports significantly. In essence, an entirely new pipeline system would have to be constructed in order to satisfy Europe's upcoming energy requirements, whether in gas or in oil. Because it is ecologically cleaner, the EU had taken a policy decision in favor of gas. The European Commission began to look still more definitely towards Iran to satisfy at least some of its long-term gas demand, as well as to put price pressure on Russia.
Continue reading "How Deeply Will Iran Penetrate the Evolving Eurasian Energy Networks?" »
After a slow start in 2002, the SCO's St.-Petersburg summit in May 2003 approved development of a military arm to assist SCO anti-terrorist cooperation. The organization’s first multilateral military exercise (called “Interaction-2003”) took place that August in Kazakhstan and China, although without Uzbekistan’s participation. In September of that year, the prime ministers of the member states agreed in Beijing to fund the SCO in the amount of $4 million during 2004, establishing its secretariat in Beijing (moved from Shanghai in accordance with a September 2002 decision) and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in Tashkent (rather than Bishkek, and beginning operations in January 2004).
Continue reading "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization Moves into First Gear" »
When US President George W. Bush was in India this month, he caused a flurry of commentary, especially in the Indian media, by appearing to lift long-standing American objections to the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to India. "Our beef with Iran is not the pipeline," he said in Islamabad. "Our beef with Iran is the fact that they want to develop a nuclear weapon ... We understand that you [Pakistan] need to get natural gas, and that is fine."
Continue reading "Delhi's Options beyond Iran" »
Just as people who study oil prices look too much at the New York and London spot price, those who study gold prices look too much at the New York spot price and the twice-daily London fixes. Wednesday's phenomenal rise in the price of gold in New York was presaged in Asia. The day before, the spot price rose US$20 in Asian markets as investors dumping stocks began to shift to gold as a safe haven.
Continue reading "Gold: Why Asia was spot on " »
Pakistan's economic outlook, already darkened by internal violence, strife on its border with Afghanistan, soaring inflation and a plunging stock market, took a turn from bad to worse this week with the decision by Standard & Poor's to downgrade its foreign-currency rating. Along with other emerging stock markets, Pakistan's has taken a battering as global confidence has eroded. The Karachi All Share Index is down 40.5% from its high on April 18 this year, the Karachi 100 a similar amount, and the narrower Karachi 30 is down 47.4%.
Continue reading "S&P turns screw on Pakistan " »
The Indian stock market continues to slide following revelation of the scandal surrounding the outsourcing company Satyam Computer Services, of which the founding brothers have been interrogated and jailed and the chief financial officer arrested following the revelation of fraud that could exceed US$1.5 billion. Chairman Ramalinga Raju resigned in the middle of last week with a letter confessing the falsification of profit and revenue.
Continue reading "India's economy in junk mode" »
The hopes of the India's United Progressive Alliance as it heads towards next week's general elections are being encouraged by a stock-market revival that has seen shares recover 20% since the Satyam Computer Services fraud scandal broke on January 23.
Continue reading "Indian stocks give poll cheer" »
The UPA's positive showing against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), based around the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), banished for the moment fears that the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) elections would produce an unstable if not internally fractious government and increased the prospect of successful legislation for economic reforms. Congress alone increased its representation from 165 to 205 seats, and with its allies inside the UPA will have 262 members of parliament, or nearly half of the 545 seats.
Continue reading "Indian stock surge doutful guide" »
In the English-speaking world, it was once popular to suggest the irrelevance of an idea by asking rhetorically, "But what's that got to do with the price of tea in China?" Today, however, everything in the global economy seems one way or another tied into the price of copper in China. The metal has acquired a higher profile than usual as an indicator of international economic health.
Continue reading "China's demand bends copper's value " »
Для мирного разрешения нагорно-карабахского конфликта Азербайджану стоит продолжать придерживаться той же стратегической линии, считает ведущий эксперт по странам Евразии, доктор Роберт Катлер.
Continue reading "Эксперт по странам Евразии: «Азербайджану стоит придерживаться прежней линии в переговорном процессе по Нагорному Карабаху»" »
A spate of recent analyses in India has focused on the threat of the monsoon season to add a cautionary note to tales of the surging stock market. There is, however, more to this than meets the eye.
Continue reading "India recovers, then falters " »
Recent energy and other developments in Southwest Asia, particularly involving Turkey, Iran and Iraq, sketch the outline of an imminent reorganization of international relations in the region. This will have knock-on effects for Eurasia as a whole and the shape of the international system in coming decades. At the same time, it suggests new and unexpected relevance of the mid-20th century geopolitical theorist Nicolas Spykman.
Continue reading "The Rise of the Rimland?" »
UE; viac ako 15 rokov sa Spojené štáty usilujú zintenzívniť kooperáciu medzi nezávislými krajinami kaspického regiónu v oblasti energetiky. Od začiatku 90. rokov je cieľom americkej energetickej politiky zabezpečiť, aby tieto krajiny nezáviseli len od jednej vývoznej trasy, ktorá by mohla byť ľahko prerušená.
Continue reading "Kaspickú diplomaciu je nutné zintenzívniť" »
Bangladesh, long known in the West as an "international basket case", is doing its best to consign to history the dismal label so firmly attached to it by US diplomat Henry Kissinger. The economy is humming and the stock market surging. Now the government is being urged to pursue reforms while the opportunity lasts.
Continue reading "Bangladesh breathes in hope" »
The continuity inherent in incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa's election victory, based on early returns, is likely to further strengthen confidence in Sri Lanka's economic revival after decades of civil war.
Continue reading "Sri Lanka's economy onwards and upwards" »
Turkey last week strengthened its energy ties with Iraq by renewing a contract to import Iraqi oil to the Turkish Mediterranean Sea port of Ceyhan, where Azerbaijani oil also arrives via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. Earlier this year, it was announced that Iraq will export between 5 billion and 10 billion cubic meters per year of natural gas to Turkey for inclusion in the Nabucco pipeline carrying the fuel to Europe.
Continue reading "Turkey strengthens Iraqi energy ties" »
Last month, after years of on-again, off-again negotiations, Iran and Pakistan signed an agreement for a bilateral natural gas pipeline to be sourced from the South Pars deposit. India has since asked to reopen negotiations, from which it had earlier withdrawn, to make the project trilateral. While pricing issues between Iran and Pakistan appear to be resolved, questions about pipeline security in Pakistan, pricing with India, and the role or non-role of China, are only three of the sets of problems still awaiting resolution.
Continue reading "India Seeks to Re-enter New Iran-Pakistan Gas Deal" »
The murder by Naxalite insurgents of 35 civilians and police in a landmine attack on a bus in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh on Monday, a month after another attack killed at least 75 policemen, barely registered among investors seeking to tap into the country's burgeoning economy.
Continue reading "Naxalites drill away at India's wealth" »
Эксклюзивное интервью 1news.az с профессором Института европейских, российских и евразийских исследований Карлетонского университета (Канада), Роберт Катлером (Robert Cutler).
Continue reading "Роберт Катлер: «Соглашение по газу между Азербайджаном и Турцией приближает осуществимый срок реализации Набукко»" »
In mid-August, BP Azerbaijan announced that oil from Turkmenistan is now entering the BTC in Azerbaijan and will constitute between four and five percent of its present throughput of 800,000 barrels per day (bpd), which is being upgraded to 1.2 million bpd with a view towards eventual inclusion of oil from Kazakhstan’s offshore Tengiz field. These practical steps of cooperation with Azerbaijan, combined with the mid-August announcement in Ashgabad of new directions in Turkmenistan’s gas export policy, point the way towards a European direction for future Turkmenistani production, not forgetting China and the possibility of South Asia, while Iran is given only marginal reference and Russia is ignored.
Continue reading "Turkmenistan Confirms Export Shift Away From Russia" »
The world price of copper both reflects and drives the hopes and fears of economic recovery and disaster.
Continue reading "Copper Tells the Story" »
Whatever doubts Sri Lanka's local and overseas investors had about constitutional amendments reinforcing President Mahinda Rajapaksa's already appreciable powers, they did not show up in the stock market in the week since parliament approved the changes.
Continue reading "Sri Lankan economy powers on" »
"We are currently constructing the East-West Pipeline [across southern Turkmenistan, which] will be laid along the coast of the Caspian Sea. … Nabucco is associated with this project." Thus spoke Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow at a press conference last week, as reported by many international sources, including Azerbaijan's Trend News Agency, despite the fact that these words did not appear in the official transcript of his remarks as cited by his government's news agency.
Continue reading "Turkmenistan signals Nabucco intentions" »