The Caucasian Oil Circle
by Igor Borisov
months ago into the world press leaked information about regular meetings
between American and Iranian "diplomats" discussing armaments and oil.
Journalist could never guess there were actually 3 groups meeting, not 2. Who
was the third? Russians...What did they chat about? We don't know...
month and a half later there was a message in the media :ayatollah Ali Hameni had
publicly condemned provocative statements made by the President concerning
nuclear crisis with the West, having indicated that highly authorities and
politicians should in fact avoid making provoking and illogical declarations.
prior to the above events the members of the strategic oil problems of the
American Investigation Dept met with the top management of British Petroleum in
June the Iran News press agency advised that Russia and Kazakhstan expressed their readiness to
participate in building of new Iranian oil pipeline Neka-Jusk. A few day later Azerbaijan decided to join the "couple".
August a Russian Gazprom delegation unofficially arrived in Turkmenistan. What for? To get agreement
on a fixed Turkmen gas price for 20 years ahead in exchange for setting up
energetic infrastructure in the country. Nobody understood a thing -what was
the fixed price, when in this year it will reach $500 per cubic meter and
double up in the following year. After the haze had gone there were 2 oil
logistic experts noted amongst the delegation leaving for Moscow. What did they do here?
Obviously not sunbathing.
I then wrote - Should there be explanations or comments, I would adduce them soon after. The comments have emerged.
draw your attention it was written a few days prior to the X hour.
prior to the X hour the USA refused Israel's request for armament supply
as it could conduce to Israel's attack on Iran. The USA politely forewarned it ally
in the Middle
the attack on Iran was unwanted. And - NB! - the
USA c demanded Israel's compulsory report in case
of attacking Iran's nuclear objects.
Israel diplomatically snarled having
shown its teeth for the first time over decades, showing its right for warfare
should diplomatic sanctions fail. But diplomats were perplexed - what happened?
Why the US president's standpoint
changed dramatically? Analysts decided that the USA were against attacking Iran.
light of the preceding, Ahmadinejad's reverse didn't make the due effect.
Ahmadinejad stated that withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will aggravate stability and
territorial integrity in Iraq and jeopardize safety in the
region. Something new to hear...
x-hour fell on an opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. It was weird to hear about
beginning of war in the Southern Osetia. The message ran counter to
the Olympic atmosphere in the world and seemed being a hoax - wars never
started during the Olympics!
broadcasting station "Radio of Freedom", backed by the US Congress, refuted a new
message about Russians' air raid over the key posts of the oil pipeline
Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan. The pipeline was safe. It cannot be so! The modern
military techniques are precise and a rocket may hit a nail. But the pipeline
was safe. It means they wanted to leave it safe.
the same date the British Petroleum, an operator of the oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan advised they did not
want to risk and stopped oil export to Jeikhan and also along the Baku-Supsa
oil pipeline through Georgian ports Batumi and Kulevi.
after the president of the State-run oil company of Azerbaijan Rovnag Abdullaev
urgently advised at the press-conference that his company commenced an export
of crude in the Russian direction through an old Azeri branch of the oil
about your and your BP operator's recent comments over the low carrying
capacity of the CPC (Caspian Pipeline Consortium) and its unbearably high
tariffs? - Georgian journalist asked spitefully. Veteran oil industry worker
Rovnag Abdullaev didn't even glimpse at him leaving the question without
answer. He waived his hand - Have you got other questions?
The artillery bombardment of the Georgian segment of the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan oil pipeline failed to convince Rovnag Abdullaev that the pipeline is being poorly secured and it was necessary to convert
oil pumping towards the sea terminals. However the fire on a Turkish segment of
the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan oil pipeline resulted in burning of 20 tons of oil,
brought "the work" to a logical end.
committed the arson? - you can ask irately. The Turks...
the next morning, oil started being dispatched to Novorossiysk by 10-12 thousand tons every
day and by 20 thousand tons via the safe part of Georgia, by railway into the microscopic
ports with antiquated equipment. Yet earlier more than 100 thousand tons of
crude were pumping through Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan oil pipeline every day. Where
have the other daily 70 thousand tons gone?
has been rumored that this oil was loaded into oil tankers at nights, with the
mandatory projectors switched off. The tankers virtually disappeared into the
darkness of the Caspian Sea. In mornings, the tankers were spotted within the close zone of the
Iranian oil terminal Neka. 5-6 hours later the contraband oil was draining
through a non-export diameter pipelines to the Tegeran oil-processing plant and
in a little while the freshly made fuel was finishing its life in the smoking
Georgians realized they have lost to Russia. And after the pressure has
dropped down in another pipeline - gas pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum - it has
become clear that they lost to Russia again, with gas now.
what's happened? Where is gas? - Georgian minister was calling the Azeri
Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources in the intermissions between calls
from Turkey. The answer he got was
disappointing - for reasons we cannot disclose the extraction of gas at the
Azeri deposit Shakh-Deniz has been cut down. But the worried Turks were assured
in receiving gas in full volume.
from? How? When? Hot Turks were out of
From Russia and Iran, through pipelines, today -
said their Azeri colleagues and BP.
as well as oil pipelines Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan and Baku-Supsa skirted Russia and left it deprived of
several years: in Soviet times the Caspian Sea was invested billions and its
successor, who paid off the Soviet debts, is in its full right waiting for
repay. But there is no repay - oil is being transported through the stranger's
pipeline, not Russia's one.
million cubic meters of gas is being pumped to Turkey though the
Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline daily. So far, it went to Georgia and Turkey only. But there were 2
counter-Russia plans. First of all, the Caspian gas from Erzerum should have
fraternized with Iranian gas from the Persian Gulf and travel together to the southern
Europe through the pipeline Nabucco
(quite Iranian name!). But the southern Europe has been gas supplied by Russia, so what do? Besides, Russia was prepared to direct its
gas flows to the southern Europe by 2 lines: the "Blue Stream"s branch from Turkey onward the Apennines and the branch of the
powerful Southern Siberia-central/southern Europe pipeline.
the lobbying of the Transcaspian pipeline, the mortal enemy of the Caspian
pipeline. Either the first or the second - Bolivar won't bear the both of them
- there is not that much gas in the Caspian region. And this is the Caspian gas
pipeline near Saratov's small town Alexadrov Guy,
which should have been flown into that pungent pipeline leading from the Southern Siberia to the central and southern Europe.
"Disgusting" Transcaspian pipeline, worth "only" 12 billion dollars, was supposed to allow for the Turkmen gas reach the Baku-Erzerum pipeline. And it is the most important element of the Gazprom's mortal rival Nabucco who is ready to hop from the Turkish Erzerum into Austria and further non stop. Iran, USA and Azerbaijan incline to give the Turkmen gas to Erzerum, and Russia - to Alexandrov Guy. This is the major problem!
to 2006 Russia was the sole supplier of the
natural gas and electro-energy to Georgia. After the
Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipelines started operating in
2006, the Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili announced energetic
independence of Georgia. I reckon this has triggered
tension in the relationship resulted in warfare 2 years later.
the war, when Baku had to direct the high
quality, premium Azeri, Kazakh and Turkmen oil into the common collector with
less premium Russian oil, Iran has unexpectedly raised its
voice: welcome to Neka.
is an Iranian port and oil terminal in the southern part of the Caspian sea equipped at a high end. The
Iranian export oil pipeline Neka-Jusk rises in Neka and further connects the Caspian Sea with Persian Gulf. It was put up as an
alternative to the oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan.
But it is only in drafts whilst the oil industry workers are eager to find out
what should they do during the construction period.
Neka-Jusk pipeline will hardly become an alternative to Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan
pipeline. It leads to the Persian Gulf which is not less dangerous
than the territory of Georgia, and the "Georgian" leads to
And more importantly- what does Russia gain from this "foreign"
at a loss? Georgia, Turkey, Egypt and... Israel. Don't be surprised, and Israel too. If you remember, Israeli
modern pipeline Ashkelon-Eilat, skirting the Suez, is geared up and Azerbaijan calls it "darling" because it
allows to shortcut to the South-Eastern Asia. It is worth to mention that as
far as expenditures are concerned - oil industry workers count every cent - the
Israeli path is indeed more profitable. However the Georgian conflict brings
the Israeli option to naught.
now the key issue. Russia and Kazakhstan expressed its readiness to
partake in construction of the oil pipeline Neka-Jusk. What will these biggest
oil players get in return?
they will get commercial ground in the Persian Gulf cooperating with Iran by the "oil substitution"
scheme (we give you Caspian oil, you give us your oil in the Persian Gulf). Secondly, they "dump" the
problem-causing pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan which is an alien to Russia and half alien to Kazakhstan. And about Azerbaijan in a sense? Easy - if Kazakhstan drives oil to Iran by tankers through Neka, the
pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan will lose its meaning - Azerbaijan will never feed it with oil
on its own. Baku does a pre-empting step -
Azeri oil industry workers are very experienced.
does USA need a strong Iran? It is a common place that
the US believe that the Iranian
regime can be "fed" and thus, tamed. And Georgia? It's different with Georgia because it has inner
inconsistencies and problems, complex political conjuncture, lost in a recent
war. In future it might be a country with high level of internal antagonism and
most importantly - an apple of discord between NATO, Russia and EU, comprised of
countries supporting Georgia "against Russia".
does USA need a strong Russia? Because it does not need a
weak country, unable to resist common enemies which the US consider all types
of terrorists, China with zero natural resources and all aggressive regimes
(from the US point of view) which will emerge on the world map.
why does USA in the current circumstances
still establish a counter-missile defense in Poland and other European countries?
One does not obstruct the other but rather helps in secret negotiations. By smiling
at each other rivals become more pliable and compliant. Americans'
friends/rivals - Great Britain, Russia, Israel - act the same way in their
personal sectors of interests. For example - sensible or insensible - you are
to judge - Israel's conduct during Georgian
conflict. So was sensible or insensible? As far as the national security
concerns it was sensible and Russia will memorize this gesture of
removal which put its own little contribution into the world's attitude. And
countries do not have other concerns.
you may see, I haven't written anything about gas, post-war pipelines and
relationships. But I'm sure there is one decision that could reconcile
everyone. Just open a side "door" Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum for safe and reliable
Russian gas flowing to Europe - on the same day the Georgian conflict will
disappear. You (I address the owners) will not cope with it on your own,
especially with such a warlike rhetoric. Business does not like noise. And by
the way (I address the Israeli now), the situation in Israel will improve. The "Blue
Stream", leaving Jeikhan through the Mediterranean Sea towards gas terminal in Haifa, would calm down all rivals
in this region.
course, I have made it up - I gathered the scattered facts and interpreted them
in my own logical way to you. I provided you with an explanation of the war
conflict as I see it. Mass media tells you children fairy tales about adults'
last, I regret there is no wise, real Brecht's Solomon, who - as in the parable
- would judge the present complicated Caucasian oil conflict and put everything
in places, thus having rendered assistance to the oil industry workers.
Pipelines going through Georgia have lost its attraction because they go through the countries with complex system relation (artificial or natural) and undecided problems which will become aggravated in future.
It is very hard to restrain the sliding puzzle. It became obvious long before the war, not after. The Russian oil strategic survey should be given full credit. They noticed the problems and, being qualified specialists in the area of hydrocarbon logistics, played their part excellently.
Iran is a different story. It is a
geographical massive without risks inherent in the Caucasus. Conversely, there are
different sort of problems. It does not indicate that Iran will now love the US, no - people will continue to
hate them and the oil will continue to be transported across Iran. This way or the other, the
oil pipeline Neka-Jusk (not existing yet) and the Caspian pipeline will rank
top places. I do not exclude other decisions for transporting the oil.
does not mean that tomorrow all will change dramatically. If the US do not find convincing and
attractive arguments and agree with Russia, we shall be witnessing
changes in the Caspian oil policy. It's impossible to relocate the arguing
countries on the map, rather, will remodel the oil transportation system.
We shall see...