January 1, 2012
Bets are off on which is the great story of 2011. Is it the Arab Spring(s)? Is it the Arab counter-revolution, unleashed by the House of Saud? Is it the “birth pangs” of the Greater Middle East remixed as serial regime changes? Is it R2P (“responsibility to protect”) legitimizing “humanitarian” bombing? Is it the freeze out of the “reset” between the US and Russia? Is it the death of al-Qaeda? Is it the euro disaster? Is it the US announcing a Pacific century cum New Cold War against China? Is it the build up towards an attack on Iran? (well, this one started with Dubya, Dick and Rummy ages ago …)
Underneath all these interlinked plots – and the accompanying hysteria of Cold War-style headlines – there’s a never-ending thriller floating downstream: Pipelineistan. That’s the chessboard where the half-hidden twin of the Pentagon’s “long war” is played out. Virtually all current geopolitical developments are energy-related. So fasten your seat belts, it’s time to revisit Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “grand chessboard” in Eurasia to find out who’s winning the Pipelineistan wars.
Got tickets to the opera?
Let’s start with Nabucco (the gas opera). Nabucco is above all a key, strategic Western powerplay; how to deliver Caspian Sea gas to Europe. Energy execs call it “opening the Southern Corridor” (of gas). The problem is this Open Sesame will only deliver if supplied by a tsunami of gas from two key “stans” – Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
The 3,900-kilometer Nabucco will hit five transit countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Turkey – and it may end costing a staggering 26 billion euros (US$33.7 billion) .
Construction – endlessly delayed – might start by 2013. Essentially, everything is still a bloody mess. Nobody knows about prices, or the details of transit rights. Turkey is also eager to resell the gas on its own. Moreover, if Baku and Ankara decide to develop in tandem the Shah Deniz phase II  fields in Azerbaijan to feed the pipeline, they will need an extra $20 billion in investment.
This article was posted: Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 7:13 am