Policy Memos

Turning Pipe Dreams into Pipelines: Eurasian Energy Transit and the Credible Commitment Problem

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Russia’s 2009 gas cutoff to Ukraine and the European Union and subsequent efforts to establish control over the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) reignited concerns about a “re-energized” Russian foreign policy across Eurasia. Similarly, the July 2009 intergovernmental agreement on the construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline, a project mired in controversy over sources of throughput and financing, continues to fuel anxiety in Moscow over the “politicization” of Caspian energy exports. The clamor surrounding these episodes is symptomatic of a broader debate on the strategic dimensions of cross-border Eurasian energy transit, in which pipelines are viewed as either instruments of competitive resource nationalism or conduits for strengthening interdependence and regional cooperation. This, in turn, betrays the conventional wisdom that politics and geostrategic posturing trump the economics of pipelines, making the countries between Russian/Caspian suppliers and European/Asian markets mere pawns in the global quest for energy security. [...]

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About the author

Technology, and Policy, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs; Associate Director, Strategic Energy Institute
Georgia Tech