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Post Tajikistan and Pipelines
Created by John Eipper on 09/23/11 1:23 AM

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Tajikistan and Pipelines (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, USA, 09/23/11 1:23 am)

I had mentioned Israel's (not Jewish, as Robert Gibbs on 21 September incorrectly writes--he must be careful not to confuse Jewish with Israel; this is a tactic used by people who want to silence criticism of Israel, and I do not believe this was Mr. Gibbs's intention) ownership and interest in oil because in a post of September 2, Cameron Sawyer wrote in response to John Heelan: "Really? Israel is competing for control of oil and gas reserves in the Middle East? I was not aware that Israel is much active in the oil and gas business in the Arab Middle East, much less competing with Iraq to such an extent that it would provoke a war. I would be grateful for details on this." John Heelan conceded. I therefore provided information on Israel's interest in oil. Therein lies the relevance.

Mr. Gibbs further states in response to my post of September 5: "Further, the proposed pipeline through Iran was a non-starter from the beginning. Indeed, the only country proposing it was Iran." I was not aware that Iran was part of the Task Force commissioned by President Bush to prepare an energy policy report. In fact, if Mr. Gibbs refers to page 90 of the report (herein attached again http://www.rice.edu/energy/publications/docs/TaskForceReport_Final.pdf), he will note that none of the some 40 Task Force members are from Iran. There were, of course, three dissenting views: Patrick Clawson, David L. Goldwyn, and Joseph P Kennedy II.

This is a report that is detailed and interesting. Of note, page 45 of the report: "Finally, US insistence on the longer and costly Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route could jeopardize a more comprehensive approach toward the export of the Caspian Basin's resources and would put at risk a more commercial approach."

If I have misunderstood the report, I wish Mr. Gibbs would correct me.

JE comments:  Does a "more comprehensive approach" mean through Iran?

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  • Pipelines (Robert Gibbs, USA 09/27/11 7:55 AM)
    Regarding the oil pipelines of previous postings, I would like to point out to Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich (23 September) that my comments were meant to clarify several points especially in regards to the BTC pipeline and her suggestions regarding the TAPI pipelines. I suppose this requires further explanation.

    First, the Task Force (TF) Soraya referred to was not a US Government task force but a private Task Force out of Rice University, jointly sponsored with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). There is no mention of George H W Bush's support in the report. Second, I was discussing various national interests in Azeri oil pipelines. Third, in the report cited by Soraya, even the reference offered on page 45 (pages 44-45 actually) reflect the CFR's view of post-Soviet Russia and Central Asia's place, which reinserted the former Soviet states back within a Russian orbit. This is what Azerbaijan distinctly wanted to avoid. Indeed, as Russia and Iran were applying pressure, it was the US Government that bothered to ask the Azeris what they wanted. The Clinton administration agreed with the Bush administration that considering the Azeris' desire for the BTC pipeline, they commissioned State and DoD studies regarding both the pipelines and its economic potential (e.g.: would it be profitable and can it supply large enough quantities of oil to sustain the pipeline; in both instances the answer was yes.)

    The decision and US support for the pipeline was in line with the distinct and expressed wishes of the Azeri Government. While there were several disagreements in the two US reports and analysis, these were resolved. The only remaining impediments to the pipeline were in the corruption of both the Georgian and Turkish Governments' attempt to overplay their hands in demanding higher transit fees. Iranian Government inducements were rejected out of hand for reasons stated before and because of Iranian demands for more of the Caspian oil than it was legally entitled to (Law of the Sea or Law of International Lakes--again). This route was never realistically considered by the Azeris.

    Finally. even the Task Force's dissenting views support Azerbaijan's view by stating "The record of Russia and most especially Iran are of long delays and unreasonable demands." (Page 88)

    I will conclude by pointing out that the US Government's involvement was due to the request of the Azeri Government and EU--the various oil companies involved also agreed with the US viewpoint.

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