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  • » 05/05/2006, 00.00


    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.

    Altana (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and US Vice President Dick Cheney met today in Astana to discuss plans for trans-Caspian pipelines that would bring oil and gas to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, and then Europe, after crossing the territories of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia, thus avoiding Russia altogether.

    For many years, the United States, Russia and China have been competing for the favours of oil- and gas-rich countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia, regions on the cusp of Europe and Asia.

    Mr Nazarbayev wants to diversify Kazakh energy export routes, but has not yet decided whether to buy into the US scheme. Kazakhstan already sells oil to China through a massive pipeline that began operations last week.

    "Kazakhstan wants to build up cooperation with the European Union to diversify hydrocarbon export routes," Kazakh Energy Minister Baktykozha Izmukhambetov said after talks with visiting EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. With this in mind, the Kazakh energy ministry will send a proposal to the European Commission on a feasibility study for a Trans-Caspian pipe-line.

    Last week, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev was in Washington on a visit that underscored his country's role to the US as a reliable partner.

    Turkey is another major player as a gas transit hub, including gas from Russia, but Washington wants to make Ankara more independent from Moscow.

    Russia has instead insisted that a Caspian sub sea gas pipeline would have an unacceptable environmental impact.

    For Kate Hardin, Cambridge Energy Research Associates director, "Europe and the US took a second look at the map" of Central Asia after the crisis in January when Gazprom, the Russian natural gas giant, temporarily shut off gas supplies to Ukraine, reducing the flow to all Europe (which gets 25 per cent of its gas from Russia).

    In this Great Game, the Caspian is becoming a focal point in the search for new supplies because of its vast energy reserves and because Caspian nations may be easier to reach than others in regions like Africa, said Alfa Bank chief strategist Chris Weafer. Competition is high and "China and India have a huge appetite for energy and will give favourable terms," he added.

    According to experts a trans-Caspian gas pipeline has to be agreed to by all littoral states, including Iran. Hence Zeyno Baran, director of the Eurasian Policy Center at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, added that any discussion of a Kazakh pipeline would just be "the start of a long process". (PB)

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    See also

    04/09/2008 GEORGIA - AZERBAIJAN - USA
    Cheney in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine to reinforce alliances under pressure
    Extensive assurances of support and a billion dollars in aid for Georgia, to continue collaboration with countries crucial to energy security. Meanwhile, Moscow seeks other countries to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    The westward expansion of SOCAR, to Russia's detriment
    Azerbaijan's state oil company is planning refineries in Turkey, Ukraine, and Central Europe. It is sending energy by pipeline into Europe, up to Ceyhan, and through the Georgian port of Kulevi. It also plans agreements with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Experts: it is uncertain how extensive Azerbaijan's energy resources are.

    Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh a condition for Armenia's participation in Nabucco pipeline
    If Armenia is more "flexible", and reaches an agreement with Azerbaijan, it could be involved in the pipeline that Europe wants to lay from the Caspian Sea to Austria. Turkey is highly active, interested in increasing trade in the southern Caucasus.

    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.

    03/03/2010 KAZAKHSTAN – EUROPE
    Kazakh oil to reach Trieste
    The presidents of Kazakhstan and Romania look at how oil from the Caucasus could reach the Black Sea for transhipment to Romania’s sea port of Constanţa and then Trieste. Kazakhs want to reduce their dependence on Moscow. Romanians want to become the gateway to Europe.

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