May 24, 2005

THE PART OF EUROPE THAT MATTERS:

Pipeline politics give Turkey an edge: A pipeline that brings Caspian oil to Turkey's coast opens Wednesday. (Yigal Schleifer, 5/25/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Turkey's heartland of Anatolia - the massive plateau that serves as a land bridge between Asia and Europe - is dotted with the remains of 13th-century inns, reminders of the merchant caravans that traveled the fabled east-west Silk Road.

Some 800 years later, Turkey is again trying to take advantage of its strategic location. Today, instead of caravansaries it is building pipelines, and instead of silk and spices the products are less romantic: oil and natural gas.

A major part of this plan becomes a reality Wednesday, when the new Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a $4 billion, 1,093-mile project that brings Caspian Sea oil to Turkey's Mediterranean coast will be inaugurated. It should be fully operational by the end of 2005.

The pipeline - built by a consortium of 11 companies, including British Petroleum, the American firm Unocal, and Turkey's national oil corporation - is designed to bring a non-Middle Eastern source of oil to the West. This would loosen Russia's and Iran's grip on the transport of Caspian and Central Asian oil by creating a new route that is friendlier to the United States and Europe.

For Turkey, which has few energy supplies of its own, the pipeline is the initial step in its effort to become a major energy player, not as a producer but as a transit point. In an era when countries are increasingly looking to diversify their energy sources, Turkey hopes to establish itself as a kind of energy supermarket, betting that controlling oil routes will turn out to be as strategically valuable as producing the stuff.

"Geographically, Turkey is endowed with advantages, so we would like to use those advantages to give Turkey a role as a supplier of energy resources," says a senior Turkish foreign ministry official involved in energy issues. "It gives Turkey relevance."


Another reason their lack of enthisiasm for the Iraq war doesn't affect their status in the Axis of Good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 24, 2005 5:19 PM
Comments

What? We've got pipelines galore heading your way. We'll build a few more if it will make you happy. So, are we back in the Axis of Good?

Posted by: Peter B at May 24, 2005 7:11 PM

BLOOD FOR OIL? NOT IN MY AXIS.

Posted by: at May 24, 2005 9:10 PM

Previous comment posted by Genecis, the petulant hawk.

Posted by: Genecis at May 24, 2005 9:13 PM
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