Busy Eurasia

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Interesting stuff from the Atlantic Council's Alexandros Petersen on the booming Eurasian gas market, and the looming consequences it holds for Europe:

Not only is it the EU that is desperately in need of alternative sources of gas to diversify away from dangerous dependence on Russia, but the biggest gas player in the Caspian, Turkmenistan, has a strict policy of only selling its gas on its borders. Turkmenistan’s Director of the State Agency for Management and Use of Hydrocarbon Resources, Yagshygeldi Kakaev, underscored this point at the Bucharest Forum, amongst counterparts from Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Turkey.

In practice, this means that Western companies would have to build a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Baku to Turkmenbashi, on the Caspian’s eastern shore, to connect with the planned Nabucco line to Central Europe. China, the EU’s primary competitor for Turkmen resources, has almost finished its own pipeline across Central Asia to Turkmenistan’s borders, and despite a dispute with Ashgabat, Russia will seek to resume importing Turkmen gas in early 2010, some of which will be resold to Europe for inflated prices.

Moreover, Kazakhstan has taken the initiative to string together its own pipeline network. Azerbaijan is positioning itself as a key energy producer and pivotal transit bottleneck between the Black and Caspian seas. Turkey is busy signing contract after contract to live up to its name as the world’s largest energy hub. Turkmenistan is courting consumers in Iran and South Asia, while Russia and China muscle in.

In short, the EU’s neighboring energy players are busy. Only Europe, the beggar not the chooser in Eurasia’s energy game, is inactive. While the Lisbon Treaty and a new EU Commission have drawn the Union’s attention inward, neither Brussels nor European capitals should expect to have their energy security handed to them.

Read the whole thing.

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