He recalled that almost a whole century the states of Central Asia were outside of world politics, being part of the Soviet Union, and after the collapse of the USSR, the picture changed dramatically: they became independent national states. The analyst lists Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. These countries, according to him, were in the center of attention of economic superpowers. The reason for the keen geopolitical interest of the powerful was the strategic position of these countries - between East and West. The West and local resource riches are very disturbing: oil and natural gas reserves are present in large quantities at the bottom of the Caspian Sea.
The expert believes that the military campaign organized by the United States against terrorism had two main objectives: 1) destroy al-Qaida; 2) to overthrow the Taliban. According to the author, in Afghanistan, the United States achieved both goals. Nevertheless, they are "adamant in the matter of maintaining their permanent presence in the region." Washington set the date for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but continues to work on the implementation of its strategic ideas.
What are these ideas?
1. The Americans want to curb the nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan.
2. They do not want a nuclear Iran.
3. Another goal of the White House is to neutralize Russia. This goal is achieved by the so-called partnership between Washington and Moscow, aimed at creating an international alliance against terrorism. Such an alliance could put an end to Russian-Iranian military cooperation, according to the author of the material.
4. A permanent US presence in the region and its alliance with the countries of Central Asia will act as a deterrent against China.
5. Finally, the United States wants to get a significant share of recently discovered oil in the Caspian Sea. Its reserves may exceed 250 billion barrels. This is not to mention the large volumes of natural gas, the analyst points out.
Thus, there are two strategic aspects - military and economic. They prove the American intention to retain a permanent presence in the region.
The economic aspect is connected with the oil and gas wealth of the Caspian Sea: in the matter of sources of energy resources, America is not going to depend entirely on the monarchies of the Persian Gulf. Washington’s military presence in several countries of Central Asia dictates the need for a direct exchange of interests with them. Therefore, the United States will invest in oil as the price of its military presence. From here, the Caspian Sea is a new arena of geopolitical struggle.
Well, what about Russia?
Alexey Andreev ("Russian peacemaker") recalled that Moscow recently hosted the international conference “The Caspian Sub-region: Security Threats and Stabilization Factors” organized by the Russian Institute of Caspian Cooperation, and its continuation was the Moscow-Astana video bridge. Of particular concern was the danger of further militarization of the Caspian Sea and its transformation into the geostrategic interests of the United States and the EU.
Caspian experts in sharp disputes defended the interests of their countries, but were unanimous in one thing: Washington and Brussels are seeking to limit the traditional zone of Moscow’s geopolitical influence. The latter is evidenced by the active promotion of the energy projects TANAP, Nabucco-West / TAP and the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, as well as the prospect of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan through the creation of transit bases in the Caspian Sea.
Kazakhstan, for example, has already announced plans to create a transit base for the North Atlantic Alliance in Aktau (formerly Shevchenko).
Iranian experts are linking the Syrian conflict, the division of the Caspian Sea into national sectors and the situation in Afghanistan in one knot. “The common thing here is American expansion, new ties between the United States and all sorts of regional radicals,” said Abbas Maleki, a professor at the Sharif University of Technology and former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic. He said that the Caspian states need transparency and real confidence-building measures. “It is necessary, of course, to achieve mutual understanding, and one of our main tasks is the demilitarization of the Caspian Sea and the solution of environmental problems, especially since ecology is the only direction in which the Caspian countries have progress. There is an official document - the Tehran Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea 2003, for which further work is being carried out. ”
The chairman of the advisory council of the Caspian Sea Conservation Assistance Foundation (Kazakhstan), Serikzhan Mambetalin, explained to InfoRos that the largest oil field, Kashagan, is being developed in the north of the Caspian Sea, which was considered reserve in Soviet times (sturgeon breeding zone).
“In this issue, ecology is closely intertwined with economics and geopolitics,” said a Kazakhstani expert. The share of the American ExxonMobil in the Kashagan field is about 16,8%, America is represented there by the company Konako Phillips (the Chinese can buy its share).
“The British Shell, the French Total, and the Italian Eni are still working there, but Americans are interested not so much in the project as in becoming their operators,” continues Mambetalin. - Other Western oil companies will watch ExxonMobil work. Kashagan is located near Aktau, and it is not by chance that the NATO transshipment base is planned to be located in the same places. Just because the Americans will not leave this zone, because we are talking about large and even very large oil. Perhaps the Americans will try to balance the Chinese. But the Chinese are partners today, and what will happen in 20-30 years? Surprisingly, the passivity of Russia, I believe that the Russians should clearly say: guys, this is our internal lake, do not meddle. While this is not heard. In July, the deadline for the start of oil production, after which Russia will practically lose its dominance in the Caspian Sea. ”
The Director General of the Institute of Caspian Cooperation (Russia), Sergey Mikheev, notes on this occasion: “Russia, as is known, has provided a transshipment airfield in Ulyanovsk. But this is not the problem, but the fact that the withdrawal of NATO troops would not become a pretext for the long-term consolidation of the US military presence in the Caspian Sea and in the region as a whole. ”
And Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, stated: in order to understand the "impracticability" of the alliance with NATO and the viciousness of the thesis "but where will they get from us" (regarding the CIS countries), the Yeltsin leadership took many years.
Comrade Pushkov explained the blunders of the former Russian leadership "by a sharp decline in the quality of decisions made in connection with the change of system and the deep provinciality of those who came to power."
The main challenges of the Caspian region today are separatism, extremism and the expansion of the West, according to Jahangir Karami, a professor at Tehran University. He announced this on May 17 in Moscow during the aforementioned conference "The Caspian region: security problems and development prospects," reports IA "REX".
He said: “Now it’s important that the governments of the Caspian littoral states should get down to serious resolution of the problems. Many issues are strengthened around the Caspian, and the Caspian Sea faces new threats - especially separatism, extremism. There is also an expansion of the West within NATO, and this is also a sensitive issue for the Caspian Sea. We see steps in the Middle East for the destruction of forces. It creates problems. ”
He further called on the Caspian countries to cooperate with each other: “In fact, events in the Middle East suggest that the concentration of strategic processes is aimed, and it can have many problems for the same Caucasus. Therefore, we must come to a common opinion. NATO wants to turn peaceful coexistence into a crisis. It is required that the Caspian states have cooperation and be able to solve common problems ... "
Karami noted that the situation around the Caspian Sea is about to face changes, which is fraught with the intensification of existing problems.
Doctor of Economic Sciences E.I. Pavlyuchenko, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Economics of Dagestan State Technical University in collaboration with Art. prep. M. R. Sharipov and student I. R. Akhmedova in the material on the strategic Caspian landmarks and published on the resource rusnauka.com, identified a number of Caspian aspects.
Scientists noted that for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the economic side of the Caspian issue is a priority: only the success in the implementation of oil and gas projects gives these countries opportunities for the development of national economies and, therefore, to ensure domestic political stability.
Iran is characterized by a special view on the problem of dividing the Caspian: “everyone is equal”. This causes objections and disputes between Tehran and Baku and Ashgabat.
Kazakhstan occupies a certain place in the Caspian region. According to the authors of the material, in recent years, a positive experience of cooperation in the oil and gas sector has been gained between Kazakhstan and Russia. An international project of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium oil pipeline was launched with a maximum capacity of 67 million tons per year: Kazakhstan’s oil is supplied to the Novorossiysk port and then goes to foreign markets. Another part of Kazakh oil is exported through the Russian oil pipeline system. Both states intend to expand the possibilities of increasing cooperation.
As for western projects, supplying oil in a certain direction to the system of Turkmen or Kazakhstan pipelines requires the introduction of new pipelines along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, which, according to the authors of the material, is unacceptable for the majority of Caspian states.
Scientists say that Chevron and Exxon Mobil (USA), Eni (Italy), British Gas and British Petroleum (Great Britain), Lukoil made the greatest contribution to the exploration of the Caspian offshore shelf and its development. " (Russia). They signed contracts for the development of fields, according to which it is planned to bring oil production to 2015 a million barrels per day (about 4 million tons per year) by 200, that is, to triple the current volume. The required investment may be about 60 billion dollars.
If we compare the Caspian Sea with other large oil-and-gas-bearing regions, the authors indicate, it turns out that in the richest oil storeroom of the world - the Persian Gulf zone - oil-bearing strata are located in the continental thickness at a relatively small depth. Through the nearby seaports oil is delivered by tankers directly to all corners of the world. This explains the extremely low cost of oil from the Gulf countries - less than 1 dollars per barrel at the port of shipment!
Let us return to the Caspian. According to estimates by the US Department of Energy, potential oil reserves there reach 232 billion barrels. Exports of oil from the Caspian region to the 2015 year may reach 3,5 million bbl per day, and to 2020 - 5 million barrels per day. This is from 3,5% to 7% of current world oil production.
It is noted that in the foreseeable future, the Caspian Sea in terms of its energy reserves will not be able to compete with the oil resources of the aforementioned Persian Gulf or the vast gas deposits of the North of the European part and Siberia of Russia. However, according to Dagestan scientists, the development of hydrocarbons in the Caspian basin can prevent the expected increase in the proportion of Arab countries and Iran in oil production, diversify world sources of energy resources and thus prevent an increase in the energy dependence of most countries of the world on a narrow group of countries.
According to forecasts, by 2025, the volume of oil and gas production in the Caspian will reach, respectively, 29,5 million tons and 18,0 billion cubic meters. meters per year. Such production volumes will not only ensure the utilization of the existing capacities of the entire region, but also give impetus to the increase in capacity by developing the entire infrastructure.
Hence the problem of the Caspian - not only oil and gas. In essence, we are talking about the future of the region and about the future of relations between the Caspian states with both Russia and the countries of the West.
To this we must add that, given the strong strategic interest in the Caspian region of the EU and the USA, Russia insists on solving the existing issues by the Caspian countries themselves, without the participation of thoughtful foreign policy actors looking at the world map in the Brussels and Washington offices.
Observed and commented on Oleg Chuvakin
- especially for topwar.ru
- especially for topwar.ru