- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin opened the Russian section of an oil pipeline that will boost oil exports to China from East Siberia.
“This is an important project because we are beginning to diversify the delivery of our energy resources,” Putin said at today’s opening of the pipeline in Skovorodino in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur region, in comments posted on his official website. “Thus far, shipments were made to our European partners.”
Putin said Russia is currently pumping 120 million to 130 million tons of oil to Europe and only “a small amount to Asia Pacific,” according to comments on his site.
“The China-Pacific pipeline is the most important energy project in Russia since the opening of the gas pipeline to Europe,” said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib Financial Corp., in e-mailed comments today. “It means that Russia’s strategic importance to China has increased considerably.”
Construction of the 64-kilometer (40-mile) pipeline on the Russian side was launched by OAO Transneft, the oil pipeline monopoly, in April 2009, according to state-run Vesti-24 television. From the border, the pipeline will run a further 960 kilometers to the Chinese town of Daqing, located in the country’s northeast. China will begin testing after completion of its section of the pipeline in late September, Vesti added.
The pipeline will initially carry 30 million tons of oil a year, which may expand to 50 million tons, Vesti reported Putin as saying.
Igor Sechin, Putin’s deputy for energy, said Russia would also open 500 gas stations across China, Vesti added.....
[For some reason, the powers that be are allowing Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to pretend on their world stage that there is a chance in hell that the TAPI pipeline can be built.... It even serves American destabilization plans to allow the players to pretend that Iranian gas can be part of the solution, just as they pretend that Iran can help fill Nabucco... As always, the pipeline will remain just a pipe dream until Afghanistan is tamed....
Perhaps an even greater obstacle than the Taliban is the Balouch insurgency. Pakistan may be able to force some kind of deal with their clients, the Taliban, but it has so far been unable to demolish the tenacious Balouch resistance. The Army has so been unable to protect Pakistan's small gas transmission lines, let alone the dozens of large diameter pipes tied to Central Asia.
Balouchistan can only be made safe for international pipelines in one of two possible methods, either by giving in completely to demands for an independent Balouch nation, or by bombing the areas that support the resistance back into the stone age (daily life for the Balouchs is barely above that level now). If Pakistan is willing to accept American B-52 and B-1 bombers over the country, repeating the tactics used at Tora Bora, or if all the players are willing to accept global condemnation for this criminal bombing campaign, then it could theoretically be done. But have American leaders become so desperate that they are accelerating their plans to this, the final stage of no-holds-barred military action? Are they now willing to throw-off the cloak of respectability and openly make such a bold move for world conquest?
If the Beast has become this desperate, then there will be no restraining force of popular opinion to prevent the alleged defender of "democracy" from using its entire arsenal to solve the equation, even tactical neutron bombs (you know, the neat little nukes that kill, but leave property intact?).
"Pipelineistan" will never succeed until America is ready to let the mask fall.]
Plans for a pipeline to deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India are picking up steam but the decade-long dream still risks never leaving the drawing board.
The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, or TAPI, pipeline has featured prominently in recent talks among regional leaders eager to jumpstart the faltering project for reasons of economics or security.
But with spiraling violence in Afghanistan, one of the world’s most opaque regimes in Turkmenistan and miserable Pakistan-India relations, analysts remain skeptical that anyone can succeed in raising the pipeline off the desert floor.
Recent noises from Ashgabat, which may lack the volume to fill the pipeline, are at best wishful thinking, said Evan Feigenbaum, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and ex-assistant deputy U.S. secretary of state.
“Their roadshows periodically include every pipeline idea under the sun, so in theory they’d like to do lots of things. In reality, they probably can’t and almost certainly won’t,” he said. That, he added, is even before any discussion of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s increasingly-embattled government in Kabul or the thorny issue of India-Pakistan relations. “(I) sense that the U.S. puts this on the agenda with Karzai now and again to keep the Afghans happy,” he said. “I just don’t see this in the cards, even in Ashgabat.”
But with Turkmenistan desperate to diversify its export routes following a punishing gas row with Russia last year – and with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India hungry for energy – all cards appear to be on the table again.
“What is being done on this project fits into the framework strategy for getting Turkmen gas to world markets and in this sense, it is normal,” said Valery Nesterov, an energy analyst with Russian investment bank Troika Dialog.
TAPI was first floated by the governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan in embryonic form as the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline in 1995 at the height of the Afghan civil war that followed the withdrawal of the Soviet Army in 1989.
A host of western energy firms spent the next six years negotiating with anyone they could find – including Afghanistan’s Taliban government – before NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Finally, in 2002 the concerned governments agreed to build a 1,700-kilometer pipeline to deliver Turkmen gas to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan but the project stalled because of the raging Taliban insurgency.
The pipeline aims to transport over 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Dauletabad gas fields in southeast Turkmenistan, creating a potentially massive windfall for Afghanistan in the form of transit fees.
Despite receiving financing from the Asian Development Bank, or ADB, the project has been held up by a number of problems, not least of them the security along the proposed route inside Afghanistan.
The pipeline’s route would take it straight through the region’s most turbulent locales, including conflict-torn Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan as well as Quetta in Pakistan, where tribal unrest is common.
But there are growing signs that these governments are eager to push ahead with TAPI in the hopes the potentially enormous rewards outweigh the very real obstacles in its path.
Last week Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai agreed in telephone talks to meet at September’s U.N. General Assembly in New York to unstuck the lagging project.
Days later Pakistan seemed to signal its willingness to move ahead during a meeting between the Turkmen and Pakistani foreign ministers, who agreed a meeting of the pipeline’s steering committee to be held in Ashgabat next month.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s presidential administration insisted Kabul was ready to guarantee the security of the pipeline, which he said would “yield enormous profits for Afghanistan.”
“We have a specific plan for security of this pipeline, if all sides involved in this project manage to strike a deal, we would do our utmost to ensure security of it in the best way possible,” spokesman Siamak Herawi said.
From their side, a senior official in the Turkmen ministry of oil and gas, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a consensus had been reached that the pipeline would bring security, not the other way round.
“Everyone is clear that the joint implementation of a gas pipeline that will connect the shared interests and goals of the four states will contribute to a better mutual understanding and trust between them,” he said. “And (it) will definitely improve the situation not only in the region, but also in Central Asia,” he added.
The accelerated pace of discussions leaves little doubt that the parties are interested in moving ahead, said Nesterov. Still, he warned that where Turkmenistan was involved, energy deals were best approached on a wait-and-see basis. “I think that this project, as often happens, will be used primarily as part of the negotiation process and political games of Turkmenistan,” he said.....