Saturday, May 06, 2006
Caspian Great Game Back On
05–05–2006 The Moscow Times – By Catherine Belton – The U.S. government appears to be stepping up its drive to secure energy supplies from Central Asia in a bid to counter Gazprom's growing clout and thwart a mounting challenge from China, as analysts signal the start of a tense new Great Game. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to push in Kazakhstan on Friday for a major new gas pipeline from the country to bypass Russia and take Kazakh gas westward through Azerbaijan and on to Turkey. Kazakhstan on Thursday gave an early signal it was interested in the project following talks between Kazakh officials and EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. The new push comes as consumer nations grow increasingly nervous about future supplies, with energy prices soaring to all-time highs, and concerns mount about dependence on Gazprom. The gas giant has locked in a monopoly hold on gas supplies out of Central Asia and Russia, while it supplies Europe with 25 percent of its gas needs.