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Oil and Natural Gas in Conflict - Russia, The Balkans and Central Asia


Articles and Documents

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 1999


Saving Shambala from a Russia-China Pipeline (December 7, 2011)

Russia and China are working on completing an agreement aimed at developing a gas pipeline in the border region of Russia’s Altai Republic, through Russia’s Ukok plateau and China’s Kanas Nature Reserve. This controversial project led by Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) threatens the entire ecosystem of the region and will endanger the livelihood of the indigenous tribes living in the area, contributing to the destruction of an important cultural and natural heritage. (Al Jazeera)

Russia’s Arctic ‘Sea Grab’ (August 14, 2011)

The Arctic region abounds in natural resources and will eventually become a shipping route between Asia and Europe, due to global warming. Since 2007, an “Arctic scramble” has been taking place between Russia, Canada, the US, Denmark and Norway, each country claiming a part of the Arctic area. No regional agreement has yet settled the dispute and, within the next year, Russia is planning to announce to the UN its right to annex about 380,000 square miles of the Arctic. This move will probably aggravate existing tensions between the five countries. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Winter Gas Shortages in Uzbekistan (February 3, 2011)

Natural gas rich Uzbekistan is facing gas shortages this winter as the government favors exporting over domestic use. Consumers are turning to other forms of energy, such as burning low-grade coal or wood, to keep warm when facing subzero temperatures. Despite the frustrations over the shortages of gas, Uzbeks won't lobby their government to hold more gas in reserve for domestic use because they fear government reprisals. (IWPR)


A Stockholm Conspiracy: The Underbelly of Ukrainian Gas Dealings (December 30, 2010)

Despite the apparent success of the 2009 agreement that kept natural gas flowing from Russia through Ukraine to the rest of Europe, Ukraine is struggling with the backlash from arbitration proceedings in Stockholm.  The 2009 agreement cut out the middleman company RosUkrEnergo from natural gas sales between Russia and Ukraine. The CEO of RosUkrEnergo, Dmitry Firtash, spearheaded the arbitration against the Ukrainian government for the losses his company sustained. With the election of President Yanukovych in February 2010, many of Firtash's allies were brought to power. The new government has been supporting the interests of private gas companies in the arbitration, forcing Ukraine to pay exorbitant reparations. (Spiegel Online)

TAPI Pipeline Signed, Sealed – Not Yet Delivered (December 5, 2010)

After 15 years of negotiations, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have reached an agreement on the TAPI natural gas pipeline that would span the four countries. Construction is supposed to begin in 2012 so that the pipeline would be operational by 2014. But the pipeline is supposed to go through US-occupied Afghanistan and one of the most unstable regions in Pakistan. Furthermore, the project still requires heavy private investment of funds for construction to start in 2012. (Radio Free Europe)

Afghan Government Awards Oil Contract in First Phase of Revenue-Generation Plan (December 13, 2010)

The Afghan government has awarded its first oil contract, to a domestic company, ending the 2005 ban on drilling. Supporters believe the deal will help the Afghan government become less dependent on foreign support. Other observers see the potential problems: natural resource development can destabilize weak governments and create new conflicts. Foreign investors are unlikely to move into Afghanistan quickly because it remains unsafe in many areas, but there is a possibility for future investment in resource extraction. This first contract could indicate whether Afghanistan will be able to develop its natural wealth or whether it will fall under the "resource curse". (The Washington Post)

The World Powers Court Central Asia (November 5, 2010)

Foreign countries have recently become more interested in the Central Asian states because of their strategic location and natural resources. New pipelines are being constructed in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that will connect natural gas deposits to China, India and Europe. Central Asia has the potential to serve as the "New Silk Road" if the construction of pipelines, highways and tunnels for trade is successful in connecting the East and the West. However, the war in Afghanistan presents a challenge to these projects as it destabilizes the area. (Spiegel Online)


Azerbaijan Could Scuttle Nabucco Over Turkey-Armenia Deal (October 19, 2009)

Azerbaijan has decided to play its energy card to express discontent over the recent Turkey-Armenia rapprochement. Angered at the deal, which left the Nagorno-Karabakh question unresolved, Azerbaijan is threatening to stop selling its gas to Turkey at one-third of market prices. If it follows on the move, Baku could severely undermine the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline project designed to bypass Russia by bringing gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey. (RFE/RL)

Afghanistan And The New Great Game (August 12, 2009)

The official focus on humanitarian and security concerns in Afghanistan is masking strategic energy interests. Afghanistan shares borders with Middle Eastern countries rich in oil and natural gas. Neighboring Turkmenistan has the third largest natural gas reserves in the world, which can only be brought to the international market through pipelines. This makes Afghanistan a "strategic piece of real estate" in the larger pipeline rivalry opposing the US and Russia. (The Toronto Star)


Afghanistan borders several landlocked countries rich in oil and natural gas. Since the end of the 90s, the US has been sponsoring the construction of a pipeline connecting Turkmenistan to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline confirms Afghanistan's strategic role as an energy bridge in Central Asia. In the "new great game" at play in the region, the US, Russia and China are competing for the control of energy export routes that can influence the regional balance of power. (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)


Al Qaeda, US Oil Companies, and Central Asia (July 30, 2005)

In an excerpt of his book entitled "The Road to 9/11," author Peter Dale Scott examines how the US has consistently used the resources of drug-trafficking Islamic jihadists to further its own ends, particularly with respect to oil. Scott focuses on the "three way symbiosis of Al Qaeda, oil companies, and the Pentagon," arguing that, thanks to Al Qaeda, US bases have sprung up close to oilfields and pipelines in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, and Kosovo. (Center for Research on Globalization)



Caspian Region Likely to Remain Critical for Foreseeable Future (January 12, 2004)

Washington and Moscow follow closely developments in the Caspian region because of its large oil and gas reserves. Both try to influence the region "down the path that most closely conforms to their economic and geostrategic interests." (Power and Interest News Report)



The Axis of Oil - How a Plan for the World's Biggest Pipeline Threatens to Wreak Havoc (October 28, 2003)

The US wants to construct an oil pipeline stretching from Russian borders to the Mediterranean Sea to lessen dependence on Middle Eastern oil reserves. Critics to the plan point out that the pipeline would cause environmental havoc and could fuel ethnic tensions in the countries along the route of the pipeline. (Independent)

Globalization to Azeris Means Oil and War (June 26, 2003)

Azerbaijan's oil reserves and border with Iran have increased its profile in Washington, but Azeris fear increased US involvement will reinforce the autocratic government and rekindle conflict with neighboring Armenia. (Moscow Times)

A Wilful Blindness (March 11, 2003)

As in Afghanistan, the US has increased its military presence in many places to further its "war against terror." Now, under the same pretext, the US government exercises strategic control over almost all the world's major oil producing and transporting regions. (Guardian)

Oil Giants Get Slick with Bid for New Image (February 2, 2003)

Oil is a dirty business, says the Guardian. "It always has been an unhealthy cocktail of coups, cartels and carbon dioxide". All the soft-focused ethical campaigns in the world cannot detract from the fact that the major oil firms don't do enough. (Guardian)



Kazakhstan: Oil Money Threatens to Make Killing Fields (December 4, 2002)

The government of Kazakhstan is developing what will be the second largest oil field in the world, despite growing opposition from local people. To the Kazakh government, the prospect of immense oil profits outweighs the project's enormous human and environmental risks. (The Guardian)

Asian States Battle over Caspian Wealth (December 1, 2002)

The Caspian Sea region shared by Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan is quickly becoming one of the most important, and politically complex, oil areas in the world. (YellowTimes)

Afghanistan Aims to Revive Pipeline Plans (May 30, 2002)

Turkmen, Pakistani, and Afghan leaders, meeting in Islamabad, revived the gas pipeline plans, which some saw as the cause for the US Afghanistan campaign. Although Unocal denies plans to resume its involvement, pipelines remain central to US interests and to Afghan domestic politics. (Los Angeles Times)

Pipeline Politics Taint US War (March 18, 2002)

The Chicago Tribune analyzes the widespread belief overseas that US military deployments in Central Asia are mostly about oil.

Balkan Oil War (February 25, 2002)

Croatia is restricting the transit of oil across its territory to obstruct Bosnia's purchase of cheap Slovenian oil. Croatian authorities hope to force Bosnia to purchase more expensive Croatian oil supplies. In retaliation, Slovenia is filing a complaint with the WTO and Bosnia is boycotting Croatian oil. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Strange Boardfellows (January 2002)

US-based UNOCAL, described as the "bottom feeder" of the oil business, has frequently been associated with unsavory regimes. Eric Scigliano of the Nation discusses the company's history and its relationship with the Taliban.



Central Asia's Great Game Turned on its Head (September 25, 2001)

Central Asia's strategic importance and its vast unexplored oil reserves have long made it a source of conflict between rival superpowers struggling for dominance. This article illustrates how oil interests have influenced foreign policy in the region, particularly with respect to the US's role in bringing the ruling Taliban to power in Afghanistan (Reuters).

Potentially Massive Oil and Gas Find in Tibet (September 5, 2001)

The discovery of oil and gas deposits in Tibet provides China with further incentive to tighten its grip on its rebellious Western provinces. Rather than having the effect of "quelling separatist sentiments" as Stratfor suggests, the acceleration of China's "Go West" policy is likely to increase militarization of the region, exacerbate tensions, and heighten the repression of minorities.

Bush Encourages Resolution of Conflict in Oil-Rich Region (April 10, 2001)

Bush is trying to play a mediator role in the 13 year old conflict on oil between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Of course, the US has some interest in the resolution of the conflict, since the region could be major oil supplier for Western countries. (Reuters)




Petrodollars Behind the Chechen Tragedy (December 7, 1999)

Russia's unwillingess to settle the ongoing Chechen war is undoubtedly related to Chechnya's role as a vital transit route for oil from Central Asia. (Interpress Service)



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