Part one of this series, published after BP-Amoco made an announcement in support of the Baku-Ceyhan Main Export Pipeline (MEP), reviewed the background to that decision and its implications with regard to the four agreements being negotiated between Turkey and Azerbaijan. It also discussed what the MEP agreement and the cost guarantee agreement might look like. Part two began the discussion of the agreement between investors and transit states. This week's column is being written on the weekend preceding the November 18-19 meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Istanbul. It is expected that a set of framework agreements will be signed at that meeting, at least by Turkey and Azerbaijan. In anticipation of that event, the discussion of the agreement between investors and transit states will continue here, with special attention to Georgia. First, however, will come a few necessary preliminary remarks about BP-Amoco and the Istanbul conference.
Continue reading "Just When You Thought Baku-Ceyhan Was Dead and Buried (3/7)" »
This week's column continues the discussion, begun last year, of the Baku-Ceyhan main export pipeline (MEP) accords initialled in Istanbul during the November OSCE summit. Although none of these agreements has yet been published, their outline and some of their details have already been analyzed here from available information. Of the four agreements initialled, previous columns this series looked at the MEP agreement itself and the cost guarantee agreement. As suggested earlier in this series, it turns out that the agreement between the investors and the transit states is complex and still subject to further clarification, as a precondition for establishing the definitive terms of the construction contract itself.
Continue reading "Just When You Thought Baku-Ceyhan Was Dead and Buried (5/7)" »
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" »
In view of some movement in the dispute over the division of the Caspian Sea, I interrupt my series on "How Shah-Deniz Is Changing the Equation" for a two-part analysis of these recent developments. I begin with a review of the background. Before 1992, the Caspian Sea was regulated by treaties signed by Persia and the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (not the USSR) in 1921, and between Iran and the USSR in 1935 and 1940. The latter two treaties defined the Caspian as a "Soviet and Iranian sea." None of these treaties established any maritime boundary between the two states.
Continue reading "Developments in the evolving Caspian legal regime (1/2)" »
I conclude the short series, on efforts to settle the international legal status of the Caspian Sea. Last week I addressed the inheritance from the Soviet period and surveyed the most salient events during the 1990s up to the end of 1997. I now pick up the thread at the beginning of 1998 and put the most recent developments into context.
Continue reading "Developments in the evolving Caspian legal regime (2/2)" »
The recent summit of Turkic-language countries in Ankara provided Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov with the opportunity to insist yet again that his country and his person are central, if not key, to the resolution of major problems in the region. His suggestion that the next Turkic summit be held in Ashgabat inevitably recalls his plan for a summit of the Caspian Sea states in the port city of Turkmenbashi.
Continue reading "Do all roads lead to Ashgabat?" »
Toward the end of President Bush's September 24[, 2001] statement about freezing terrorists' assets, one finds the overlooked but no less remarkable assertion that the U.S. is "working closely with the United Nations, the EU and through the G− 7/G−8 structure to limit the ability of terrorist organizations to take advantage of the international financial systems."
Continue reading "What Bin Laden and Global Warming Have in Common" »
Before the terrorist acts in New York City, the U.S. looked to be largely absent diplomatically and militarily, while limiting its economic presence to Caspian energy development in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Yet the formation of a U.S.-sponsored ‘global anti-terrorist coalition’ has not undercut the basis for the Sino-Russian rapprochement signaled by the institutionalization of the SCO and the signing of the first bilateral Sino-Russian treaty in fifty years.
Continue reading "The Shattering of the Sino-Russian Entente over the Shape of Central Asia?" »
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have culminated years-long negotiations with agreements that increase the amounts of Kazakhstani oil to be shipped across the Caspian Sea, supplementing Azerbaijani crude in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. Still more significant, redevelopment and expansion of ports on Georgia’s Black Sea coast now prepare the way for Kazakhstani crude to enter the Odessa-Brody pipeline (OBP), which will be reversed again so as to flow east-to-west, and so to reach world markets by way of Gdansk. This oil will come from the massive offshore Kashagan field or even the onshore Tengiz field itself.
Continue reading "Kashagan Leads Kazakhstan To Increase Trans-Caspian Oil Exports" »
Ground was broken in Kazakhstan last week for construction of that country's segment of a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China, set to be the longest and most expensive such pipeline in the world - its length is usually given as 7,000 kilometers, and although this looks like a rounding-up of a distance exceeding 6,500 km it may when work is finished be a more accurate figure than the most recent construction estimate of US$26 billion.
Continue reading "Gas pipeline gigantism" »
Более ста лет назад сэр Халфорд Макиндер (Halford Mackinder) произнес знаменитые слова о том, что территории к востоку и северу от Каспийского моря могут стать "географической осью истории", выдвигая свою геополитическую теорию о евразийском "центре мира". Этот термин сейчас в равной мере применим и к Азербайджану, учитывая его роль на южном Кавказе. И вызвано это не только тем, что он обеспечивает самый надежный и самый эффективный транзит каспийских энергоресурсов на запад в Европу и за ее пределы.
Continue reading "Азербайджан может отвернуться в другую сторону" »
Over 100 years ago, Sir Halford Mackinder famously identified territories to the east and north of the Caspian Sea as the "geographical pivot of history" in his Heartland Theory of geopolitics. Much of that territory corresponds to modern-day Uzbekistan, whose importance was rediscovered in the wake of the disintegration of the multinational Soviet state. The term could now equally apply to Azerbaijan's role in the South Caucasus, and not only because it provides the most secure and efficient transit of Caspian Sea energy resources westward to Europe and beyond.
Continue reading "Azerbaijan can look the other way" »
Более ста лет назад сэр Халфорд Макиндер (Halford Mackinder) произнес знаменитые слова о том, что территории к востоку и северу от Каспийского моря могут стать “географической осью истории”, выдвигая свою геополитическую теорию о евразийском “центре мира”. Значительная часть этой территории соответствует месту расположения современного Узбекистана, чья значимость вновь дала о себе знать после распада многонационального советского государства.
Continue reading "Азербайджан может отвернуться в другую сторону" »
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?" »
Prepared remarks to the Wilton Park Conference The South Caucasus and Wider Black Sea Neighbourhood: Regional Developments and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Wiston House, West Sussex (U.K.), 23–26 November 2009.
China's emergence as an important player in the development and use of energy resources found in the Caspian Sea basin, alongside longer established interests emanating from Russia, Europe and the United States, is a reminder of the ever-changing dynamics of the region, too easily overlooked during periods of apparent stasis, such as during the late Soviet era. Yet the appearance of this new power in the region also confirms the essential stability of a core group of relationships about which others wax and wane, with a periodicity of possible future importance that China's presence can help us to identify. Regarding the perspective on the past and future of Caspian Sea basin energy geo-economics, two observations establish the basis on which to proceed.
Continue reading "The Importance of the Caspian and Central Asia as a Source of and Transit Route for Energy" »
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" »
For over 15 years the U.S. has worked to promote cooperation over energy issues among the newly independent states in the Caspian Sea region. A proclaimed goal of U.S. energy policy in the region since the early 1990s has been to make certain that countries in the region do not have to depend upon any single export route that could easily be squeezed off.
Continue reading "Caspian Diplomacy Should Intensify" »
В том, что касается разработки и использования энергоресурсов бассейна Каспийского моря, Китай постепенно превращается в игрока, с которым приходится считаться. Вкупе с давно сложившимся пересечением региональных интересов России, Европы и США это должно послужить напоминанием о динамично меняющейся ситуации в регионе, хотя о динамике этой легко забыть в период кажущейся стабильности, как было, например, в позднесоветскую эпоху.
Continue reading "Сложные эволюции в раскладе сил" »
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" »
As you know, Europeans with an interest in energy affairs get very excited when discussing the source of the gas they’ll in 5-10 years. Especially in Italy, where Berlusconi’s center-right government is openly defying EU policy on the matter and nurturing very close ties to Russia, the debate tends to be quite heated and often partisan. We would like then to here the view of an informed and independent outsider on this.
Continue reading "Interview by European Center for Energy Security Analysis (ECESA)" »
Events this week confirm that Turkmenistan has taken a decisive strategic decision to diversify its gas exports not only beyond Russia but also beyond China.
Continue reading "Tectonic shift under way in Turkmen gas" »
Turkmenistan has broken Russia’s stranglehold on its gas exports by opening a pipeline through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China. The country’s president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has just made his first trip to New Delhi where the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline project was discussed. Earlier this year a short pipeline was opened in order to increase exports to Iran, and gas is in the process of being identified for eventual export to Europe via a Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline and the EU’s Southern Corridor. The era of Russian control over the country’s exports is over, and Ashgabat is taking care to make certain that it is not squeezed between Moscow and Beijing.
Continue reading "Turkmenistan Diversifies Gas Export Routes" »
Bulgaria and Romania have over the course of the summer been setting down their markers as regards the Nabucco and South Stream pipeline projects in an on-again, off-again manner. What they finally decide may determine which pipelines from the South Caucasus and Turkey get built where in Southeast Europe. Major investment decisions are also on the line in coming months. It is consequently little exaggeration to say that the next year, if not the next half-year, will set the main lines of the blueprint for Caspian/Black Sea hydrocarbon development for the better part of the oncoming decade.
Continue reading "The Black Sea’s West Coast Weighs In On Caspian Sea Basin Pipelines" »