tjir5-1_2c - Competition over the Caspian oil routes:...

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51 Competition over the Caspian oil routes: Oilers and Gamers perspective Enayatollah Yazdani* Competition over the oil routes has become the central focus of most of the literature on Caspian energy politics since the mid-1990s. From the many approaches taken, two different schools of thought can be identified, whose adherents might be described respectively as ‘Gamers’ and ‘Oilers’. 1 ‘Gamers’ focus on the states as players in the ‘oil game’ whereas ‘Oilers’ focus on the role of the non-governmental actors – the oil companies. This paper aims to analyze both schools' view. It argues from the schools' standpoint how the involved powers, states and companies, have attempted to maximize their benefit from the Caspian's hydrocarbons. Governmental actors: Gamers' view From the perspective of the ‘Gamers’ the competition boils down to the question of whether Russia can retain its old monopoly on the transport of hydrocarbons from the region. At independence in 1991, oil and gas either passed through Russia for export or were used by Russia to free up its own oil and gas for exports to the lucrative West European market. Since then, Moscow has been trying to ensure that pipelines continue to be routed through its territory. Existing lines have been repaired, upgraded and expanded. 2 Russia, the old ‘big brother’ of the region, has tried to maintain its profound influence on the region’s energy routes, to retain its control over strategic resources and infrastructure networks, and deny other external powers control of the region. 3 In this connection, Moscow’s opposition to the US multiple-pipeline strategy reflects its strong desire to retain control over energy resources and infrastructure. President Yeltsin in 1998 emphasized: ‘We cannot help seeing the uproar attired up some Western countries over the energy resources of the Caspian. Some seek to exclude Russia from
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52 the game and undermine its interests. The so-called pipeline war in the region is part of the game.’ 4 Russia has put pressure on the Kazak government to choose an oil transit route through Russia rather than Turkey. 5 Furthermore, Russia has an interest in controlling Caspian and Central Asian oil and gas exports to improve its own bargaining position with Western oil investors. Consequently, the Russian government has been concerned about the construction of new pipelines in other directions, and the potential for this to undermine Moscow’s predominance in the region. 6
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tjir5-1_2c - Competition over the Caspian oil routes:...

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