Sunday, March 30, 2008

The World is not "Ready for a Trans-Caspian Pipeline" Enough

"The World is Not Enough", starring Pierce Brosnan was action packed, full of excitement and when I first watched it a number of years ago, I never would have thought that I'd be looking back on it know with such interested retrospect for its plot. In case, all of you great Bond fans out there have forgotten, this movie centers its plot on a pipeline which runs from the Caspian, a pipeline that many of the heavy hitting Russian oil tycoons (in real life) are very much trying to forestall. Recalling this got me thinking about the topic and also searching a bit to really crack this nugget of what turned out to be a nearly a decade of political maneuvering.

The Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline has long been touted by Russia and Iran as an environmental disaster and a economic folly. These two great powers have good reason to feel this way. The pipeline would be laid across the floor of the Caspian in a joint venture by the those nations who border the Caspian and would supply the U.S. and the greater world market with gas that would not be taxed by either Iran or Russia. This is important because the Caspian is arguable one of the most up and coming strategic oil rich regions in the world.

According to Wikipedia, the pipeline was suggested as early as 1996 and it was not until 2007 that Russia has seemed to have definitively blocked the future of the pipeline with an agreement among Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and itself that sets up a plan to pipe gas from interior Asia to Europe. The very interesting point for me though was reading all of the commentary and rhetoric among the Asia nations, many of them hoping to ensure Russian dominance and others hoping to pull closer to America with cheaper sales by avoiding heavy Russian taxation that would certainly be involved in any pipeline plans that routed through Russia.

I guess what is funny about this is the way that Russia's oil cartels are essentially bullied the Caspian countries into submission on this one. Does it all really come down to thug on the corner bullying and mafia style "protection payments" (heavy pipeline taxes on pipelines Russia insists be routed through their country)? At any rate, the Bond movie makes it all more dramatic and he (as always gets the girl), so go out and catch the flick. If you are at all like me, you might also enjoy the plot more now that you know a little more of the obscure backstory.

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