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European Energy Policy Adrift

Ariel Cohen has a piece on Eurasian pipelines in today’s New York Times:

Despite the recession, Russia is moving with the Blue Stream and South Stream projects across the Black Sea to Turkey and Bulgaria in order to keep market share. Gazprom is enhancing its influence in Ankara at the highest levels.

Much-ignored, the role of Turkey in Eurasian energy transit is also crucial. Turkish intransigence has delayed and reduced in size the development of the Caspian off-shore Shah Deniz gas project.

Ankara has also placed daunting conditions of the construction of the proposed Nabucco gas pipeline from Turkey to Europe, which is meant to provide an alternative to Russian-controlled gas, linking the project with Turkey’s membership in the European Union, acquiring large amounts of Azeri gas for re-export and using the line for Russian and Iranian gas.

Despite all these factors, the United States and Europe should not lose sight of the strategic importance of Eurasian pipelines. At stake is access to an energy treasure-trove worth up to $4 trillion, and giant fields elsewhere are approaching exhaustion. And the pipelines are a critical source of revenue for the economic development of newly independent states in Central Asia and the Caucasus.