Selling Out

by Joshua Foust on 1/31/2008 · 1 comment

Bulgaria is apparently celebrating Russia’s monopoly on its energy supplies, transportation, and production. But that’s a really sloppy take on what’s happening. Here’s why:

For more than a year now, European countries have been flushing out plans for the Nabucco pipeline, which would bring Middle Eastern gas to European consumers, also via Bulgaria. Its successful completion would give the EU an alternative to Russian oil, but according to The Economist the completion of the Russian pipeline would render Nabucco – a nearly $7.4 billion project – “uneconomic.”

The Middle East? Really? I know Nabucco will start in Erzurum, Turkey, but I always thought it was meant to service the South and Transcaspian gas pipes… not anything coming out of the Middle East. Now, being in Erzurum, which is a major gas transit hub, means that it is, I suppose, possible it could carry gas from the Middle East, but that’s not at all why it’s being proposed. Neither of the sources Lucy Moore links to mentions the Middle East, either—they all mention the Caspian.

This is perhaps a minor quibble—after all, South Stream, Russia’s stab across the Black Sea to lock down Southern Europe, does represent a major drive toward cutting more prospects of energy independence for Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. In that sense, Moore is absolutely right to point out that it is a struggle for who gets to “own” gas coming from the Caspian region: Russia, or the U.S./EU. But if you’re reading this you already knew that… and that the Middle East right now isn’t very much involved.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

Bakinets January 31, 2008 at 11:47 am

In terms of what gas Nabucco would bring to Europe, there has always been a range of opinions. From the perspective of many on the European side of the project — as well as the Iranians — Iranian gas has always been critical to the project. And in a world without politics, gas from northern Iraq would almost certainly be the cheapest available for Nabucco.

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