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Politics of the pipeline

Why did the president of the most powerful country in the world spend 40 minutes on the telephone to an obscure Caucasian politician? Paul Sampson describes the oil-driven interest in the new independent states of central Asia

By Paul Sampson   March 1997

The world’s industrial countries are facing the possibility of a new oil crisis in the next century, as the Asian economies expand and instability in the middle east persists. For this reason attention has shifted to the giant oil and gas reserves in central Asia and the Transcaucasus.

The three fledgling states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, dotted in and around the Caspian Sea. But they all share a problem: the existing pipelines which deliver their oil and gas to international markets pass through Russia, which can thus threaten the…

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