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The Gas Comics: EU Sells Out Human Rights to Turkmenistan

gas111709.JPG You’ve got to respect Global Witness … for a watchdog NGO, they bring a lot of creativity and innovation to their cause (see this past campaign for another example).  GW has also done a tremendous job in the past unearthing all the corruption surrounding RosUkrEnergo, a subject which has come up again and again (let’s just say the corruption scandal reaches pretty high).  Today they published another hot report to remind the European Commission how they’ve got it all wrong in selling out human rights and democracy to the brutal dictatorship in Turkmenistan in exchange for eventual access to natural gas … including a collaboration with the political cartoonist David Rees.

Click here to read “All that Gas?,” and see after the jump for one excerpt about how the Russia supply threat plays into the EC’s Central Asia policies.

#1 THE COMMISSION THINKS THE EU HAS TO TURN TO TURKMENISTAN TO REDUCE EUROPE’S VULNERABILITY TO RUSSIA CUTTING THE GAS SUPPLY. THIS IS BASED ON SHAKY LOGIC.

The Commission is looking to Turkmenistan for its gas because it is nervous about further cuts in supplies due to the problems between Russia and Ukraine. But Turkmenistan at the moment is only offering to sell Europe 10 billion cubic metres of gas a year4 – just 2% of the 500 billion cubic metres the European Union consumes. So Turkmenistan does not solve the challenge of Europe’s energy reliance on Russia.

The best way to get more Turkmen gas to Europe, without going through Russia, is to build a pipeline across the Caspian Sea. The Commission hopes that such a pipeline would form part of a ‘Southern Corridor’ and possibly link up to Nabucco.

Just after his retirement in 2009, Steve Mann, the veteran diplomat who for many years co-ordinated US energy diplomacy in the Caspian region, warned against rushing into pipeline projects that don’t make commercial sense out of a fear of Russian supply cuts, a factor which he considers to have been “overplayed”. Mann said European energy security “can be achieved in ways other than pipelines. The best thing Europe could do for its security is to link its energy grid, which it’s already doing.”

The diversification of the EU’s sources of energy is an obvious positive step, but Turkmenistan poses numerous problems on so many levels that the logic of turning to this country is questionable to say the least, especially when we consider how much gas is currently available. It is a ludicrous notion that the solution to the problem of dealing with one unreliable supplier is to turn to a potentially even more unreliable one in Turkmenistan.