Nabucco trans-Caspian gas pipeline in jeopardy - paper

The future of the Western-backed Nabucco trans-Caspian gas pipeline that is designed to bypass Russia could be in jeopardy, the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet said on Tuesday. Commenting on the results of talks held between the Turkmen president and Turkish leaders on Monday in Ankara, the paper said that the parties had failed to agree on the delivery of Turkmenistan's natural gas to Turkey for the Nabucco project. The $7-8 billion Nabucco pipeline, backed by the EU and the U.S., is expected to link energy-rich Central Asia to Europe through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. Construction has been tentatively scheduled to begin in 2010. Without the support of Turkmenistan, a major natural gas producer in Central Asia, the Nabucco project is unrealistic, the paper said. In what was widely seen as a major blow to the Nabucco project, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan signed a deal in December to supply the Asian states' Caspian gas via Russia. Moscow also reached deals with Bulgaria and Serbia earlier this year on the South Stream pipeline to pump Central Asian gas to Europe.


In related news:

BP suspends 148 workers over visa dispute with Russia

BP’s problems in Russia escalated yesterday after the oil giant was forced to suspend 148 employees seconded to TNK-BP, its Moscow-based joint venture, after a dispute over visas. Fears that BP had become the latest victim of an ongoing power struggle between the Kremlin and Western energy groups were compounded when the Russian Interior Ministry said that it had launched a criminal investigation into allegations of “large-scale tax evasion” at a former unit of TNK-BP. BP said that the visa row affected specialist technical staff, such as oilfield engineers and reservoir managers, from countries including Britain, the United States, China and Germany. A spokesman in London said that most of the employees had chosen to remain in the country until the dispute had been resolved, although they were not permitted to work.

The suspension comes after difficulties experienced by BP in renewing visas after a recent legal change and the raid last week on TNK-BP’s Moscow headquarters, which led to a junior employee being charged with industrial espionage. BP and Russian law enforcement agencies insisted that there was no connection between the visa dispute and the raid or the claims of tax evasion, but the timing has fuelled concerns that a political motive may be behind the dispute. BP owns half of TNK-BP, Russia’s third-biggest oil company. The remainder belongs to a consortium of oligarchs – Mikhail Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik. A lock-in agreement that prevented the Russians from selling expired at the end of last year and there has been speculation that Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled gas monopoly, wants to acquire an interest in TNK-BP.

TNK-BP said that the suspension was a temporary measure taken due to “a lack of clarity over their current visa status”. Russian officials said that the problems “have existed for some time and are due to violations of Russian migration law. Some employees entered Russia with business visas, although working visas were required for permanent residence and work in the country. Also, attempts were made to obtain visas on the basis of the quotas of other, “ ‘dummy’ firms, which is against the law.” About 40 more senior TNK-BP employees, including Bob Dudley, the chief executive officer, and Tim Summers, the chief operating officer, who used to work directly for BP were not affected.

The Interior Ministry said it was investigating allegations that more than one billion roubles (£231 million) of tax was evaded by Sidanco, the former TNK-BP oil unit that was liquidated in 2005 after its assets were merged into the parent group. BP declined comment on the investigation. The Russian environmental agency added to the pressures on BP last week when it began an inquiry into TNK-BP’s Samotlor oilfield. The investigation is being led by Oleg Mitvol, the rumbustious head of the RosPrirodNadzor state agency. Mr Mitvol also headed the inquiry into Shell’s gas development on Sakhalin Island in eastern Siberia, which carried a threat of large fines and ultimately led to Shell’s loss of control of the project and the transfer of a majority stake to Gazprom.

Other UK energy companies that have faced difficulty trying to do business in Russia include Sibir Energy, the oil firm which claimed to have been cheated out of its Russian assets, leading to a claim for damages against Roman Abramovich, who sold his majority stake in Russian energy giant Sibneft to Gazprom for $13 billion (£6.5 billion). Relations between Britain and Russia have sunk to their lowest point in years, despite claims by president-elect Dmitri Medvedev, the chairman of Gazprom, that there was no political motivation to the disputes concerning TNK-BP. The joint venture employs 66,000 people and is a major oil and gas company in its own right. At the end of 2006 it was producing 1.7 million barrels of oil per day and had reserves of 7.8 billion barrels, which is equivalent to a large multinational oil firm.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.