Asian Oil and Gas Pipelines:
Central Asian Oil is transported along two routes: north through Dagestan
and Chechnya to Novorossisk, and a second route west to the Georgian
port of Supsa. Transport fees have ensured the safety of the pipelines
in war-torn Chechnya.
The existing pipelines are only capable of getting a small fraction
of the area's oil and gas wealth to market. Central Asian republics
are anxious to sell more oil. Americans, Europeans, and Russians are
anxious to buy more, especially from countries that do not belong
to OPEC. Investors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
are also anxious to begin transporting more oil out of Central Asia.
Only secure pipelines are lacking. The most promising routes have
1. Russia favors a northern route. Kazakhstan would expand its existing
pipelines to link them with the Russian network of pipelines. Azerbaijan
would build a pipeline from Baku to Novorossisk. Critics worry about
the pipeline's path through Chechnya and charge that if the project
was successful, Russia would enjoy too great a control over Central
2. Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, and the United States favor a western
route. According to one variation, oil and gas would flow to the Georgian
port of Supsa. From there, it would be shipped through the Black Sea
and the Bosporus to Europe. and then ship it through the Black Sea
and the Bosporus to Europe. Turkey has expressed worries about tanker
traffic in the Bosporus, and worries about the damage an accident
there might do to Istanbul. According to the Turkish variation on
the western route, a pipeline should run from Baku to the port of
Ceyhan on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. At over US$3 billion, the
cost of constructing such a pipeline may turn out to be too expensive.
3. The most direct, and cheapest, route is to south, across Iran to
the Persian Gulf. Iran already has an extensive pipeline system, and
the Gulf is a good exit to Asian markets. U.S. sanctions on Iran block
4. Despite the staggering costs it would take to construct, China
is willing to construct an oil pipeline across Kazakhstan to China.
5. The American oil company Unocal has proposed the construction of
oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan
and later to India. Afghanistan's long war has prevented this project
from moving forward. If some degree of stability returns to Afghanistan,
the project may be resurrected.