Pipeline Politics: Natural Gas in Eurasia
Project AdvisorMarin Thornton, Gabriela
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Eurasia is a major source of oil and natural gas, and events in the region have a great potential to destabilize global security patterns. Supplies of natural gas and oil from Eurasia are vital for the functioning of European economies, and also important to US efforts to reduce its reliance on Middle Eastern energy resources. Presently, pipelines in Eurasia stretch across thousands of miles throughout unstable political regions. Disruptions in gas and oil supplies negatively affect the economies and politics of the region. Future pipeline projects – such as the Nabucco pipeline – are highly controversial, and Russia’s efforts to control oil and gas supplies in the region have recently intensified. Russia has gained increased influence in its neighborhood by consolidating control of regional energy production and infrastructure. This project claims that Russia is using its energy monopoly to further its geostrategic aims: ensuring political influence in nearby countries, obtaining a rise in commodity prices, and returning to multi-polarity in which Russia maintains clear regional hegemony. On the other hand, the US has four key interests in Eurasia. These include averting tensions with Russia, stabilizing the flow of oil and natural gas to Western Europe, maintaining US regional access for counterterrorism operations, and promoting democratic regimes to reduce Russian influence. In this light, the report argues that the US must promote development of pipelines that bypass Russian control and advance alternative domestic sources. These actions will ease European dependence on Russian energy, shield Europe from disruptions in supply, and decrease Russia’s ability to exert influence through energy policy. Other options include promoting a common European Union energy policy to increase influence in energy markets, push for increased gas storage across Europe to provide temporary relief against gas disruptions, and explore increased US and European cooperation with Russia on energy market access.
Landrum, William W.; Llewellyn, Benjamin B.; Limesand, Craig M.; Miller, Dante J.; Morris, James P.; Nowell, Kathleen S.; Sherman, Charlotte L. (2010). Pipeline Politics: Natural Gas in Eurasia. Available electronically from