» 07/05/2008, 00.00
RUSSIA - CENTRAL ASIA
Medvedev in central Asia for energy monopoly
The Russian president visits Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan to convince them to send their gas through Russia, and reject the pipeline proposed by Europe. Baku's position is decisive, with pipelines already passing through into Turkey.
Ashgabat ( AsiaNews/Agencies) - The trip of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to central Asia continues, in an effort to maintain the country's monopoly over gas for Europe. Turkmenistan alone exports about 70 billion cubic metres of gas each year (equal to Italy's annual consumption), and the European Union and Western companies are proposing for Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan the creation of new pipelines that would bypass Russia, which currently transports their gas.
The EU is proposing to Turkmen president Kurbanguly Berdymukhammedov the creation of a pipeline under the Caspian Sea to Baku (Azerbaijan). The gas would then be pumped through the Nabucco pipeline, under construction, which will extend to Vienna. The country also wants to send gas to China (as of 2009, it should sell 30 billion cubic metres to China each year) and across the Indian Ocean. In March of 2008, Russia offered Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan "European prices" for their gas, after underpaying for years and using the cheap gas domestically, while it sold its own to the European Union at much higher prices. But now Medvedev is trying to stay below the prices that the EU and China are thought to be willing to pay. He observes that the planned pipeline through the Caspian Sea could also create environmental risks. With Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan (the next stop on the trip), Russia will discuss rights to Caspian energy deposits, contested by the countries on its shore.
On July 3, Medvedev was in Azerbaijan to meet with president Ilham Aliyev. Aleksei Miller, head of the Russian company Gazprom, accompanied Medvedev and explained that "Gazprom and its counterparts in Azerbaijan have decided to begin talks over the conditions for buying Azerbaijani gas". In June, Miller was frequently in Baku and Ashgabat to prepare for the trip. The country's position is crucial, because Baku is the starting point for the pipeline that arrives at the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean, and also for the pipeline that goes through Tbilisi to Erzurum, and gas could arrive there from other countries, passing under the Caspian Sea.
The gas of the Shakh Deniz deposit should pass through the Nabucco pipeline. To prevent this, Moscow is willing to buy all of Baku's gas, more than 10 billion cubic metres per year. Moscow has said that it supports the country's claims over the Nagorno-Karabakh, currently controlled by Armenian separatists, which has won it words of gratitude from Aliyev. Various experts repeat, however, that it is in the country's interests not to bind itself to Russia, but to continue instead in the current state of uncertainty. (PB)
17/09/2008 CENTRAL ASIA – EU – RUSSIA
West and Russia vying for allies and energy in Caucasus and Central Asia
NATO continues its approach to Georgia. Moscow talks about a “Cold war” climate as it strengthens its ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan try to find a difficult balance between the two rival camps. China takes advantage of the situation to gain important energy deals.
18/09/2009 CENTRAL ASIA – RUSSIA
Central Asia’s energy jigsaw puzzle getting more complicated
Leaders from Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan meet to discuss energy and pipelines. Wooed by Russia, Europe and China, energy-rich Central Asian nations are trying to get the most out of their would-be partners.
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Cheney in Kazakhstan to boost gas pipeline plan that bypasses Russia
Trans-Caspian sub-sea gas route is planned. The US and the EU want to avoid routing energy supplies through Russia.
09/02/2009 RUSSIA - CENTRAL ASIA
Moscow having trouble maintaining role of "hegemony" in Central Asia
In strengthening ties with Uzbekistan - and access to its gas - Russia risks disappointing the demands of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The three states are discussing the use of water resources, and waiting to see what position Moscow will take.
Gazprom’s leading role as an energy giant in crisis
For years, Russia’s state-owned energy company held a quasi-monopoly position. During this time it failed to invest in technology and innovation, restricting itself to signing high price contracts to maintain its stranglehold over the market. Now it is backing away from contracts it signed with Central Asian nations whilst its pipeline network is aging and becoming increasingly dangerous.
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