Summary of The Great Game for Gas in the Caspian

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Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, energy consumers and producers have vied to tap the Caspian region’s oil and gas resources. In a replay of “the Great Game” – the 19th-century tussle between the British and Russian empires over the region – the European Union, Russia, the United States and China are now exercising their geopolitical muscle to gain strategic advantage over the region’s as-yet untapped and plentiful resources. These modern, major empires have their own, often conflicting, priorities that will likely affect the future of the Caspian region and of the world’s energy markets: The EU has to ensure its future energy security with a “Southern Gas Corridor,” China has to feed its growing demand, Russia has to lock in its customers, the Caspian nations have to grow and the US has to balance its strategic interests in the region. getAbstract recommends this outstanding brief from the Economist Intelligence Unit to analysts, executives, policy makers and anyone interested in the politics of energy.

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The Economist Intelligence Unit produces reports that address the needs of businesses with cross-border interests. It provides information on a variety of subjects including economics, politics and regulation.



Strategic Energy

English poet Rudyard Kipling popularized the term “the Great Game” to portray the 19th-century struggle between the British and Russian empires over Central Asia. The phrase aptly describes the modern-day contest among the European Union, Russia, the United States and China for access to the Caspian region’s oil and gas resources. The area’s ample oil reserves initially drew the major powers’ attention, and now their interest has expanded to include the Caspian’s similarly copious gas reserves. Each of these countries, along with the region’s sovereign states, has its own motivations – energy, economic, security and geopolitical concerns – for vying for influence in the Caspian.

The EU’s long-term energy security depends on its ability to diversify its oil and gas sources. Its oil imports have risen from covering 74% of its demand in 2000 to 84% in 2010; in the same period, its gas imports have gone from 49% of demand to 62%. Russia, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the main exporters of oil to the EU, while most of the natural gas arriving in the EU comes from Russia, Algeria and Norway. The proposed “Southern Gas Corridor” pipeline to carry...

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