Politics tangles new oil, gas pipeline plans

Published on Daily Times Pakistan, May 13, 2007.

LONDON: “Happiness is multiple pipelines”, was a car-bumper sticker distributed by Americans in oil-producer Kazakhstan in the 1990s that highlights the energy-hungry West’s desire to boost oil and gas supply routes.

But building pipelines – especially privately-backed ones — often means tackling political or environmental obstacles that can take years to resolve.

“When you have multiple ownership pipelines crossing several borders it’s quite often difficult to get a political consensus to get these projects either completed or expanded,” said David Fyfe, economist at the International Energy Agency. Europe would like pipelines free of the grip of Russia, the world’s second biggest oil exporter and biggest gas producer.

The EU-backed Nabucco pipeline project to bring Caspian gas to Europe aims to cut reliance on Russia, but Hungary has yet to make up its mind on its involvement. Iran’s desire to join it is also politically sensitive. Russia backs its own link to Turkey … (full text).

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