Central Asia has plenty of oil and gas, but the best way to bring this wealth to market remains a subject of continuous controversy. Major producers are besieged with pipeline proposals that seem visionary one day, yet prove a mirage the next. Decisions that might elsewhere be made on essentially economic grounds become entangled in a morass of political and security concerns. This paper outlines the proposed projects and discusses how they fit in with producer plans for hydrocarbons development–and with each other. It will serve as a solid and reliable guide to the maze of political, security, and economic issues that will determine just how much the newly independent republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus are able to profit either from their own hydrocarbon resources or from the passage of oil and gas from neighboring countries across their territory.
John Roberts is a senior partner with Middle East Consultants and is the editor of Middle East Monitor, a monthly newsletter on the business environment in the Middle East.
A Volume of the Former Soviet South Series