Following yesterday’s welcome news of the death of a dotty dictator, lots of people have begun to realise that the potential for this to be very important news indeed is really rather high. This from the Washington Post neatly explains why:
“Turkmen gas is already an important element in state-controlled Gazprom’s ability to meet customer demand at home and abroad and could become vital as demand rises over the next decade.
“The United States has lobbied Turkmenistan, so far unsuccessfully, to build a pipeline across the Caspian Sea that would bypass Russian territory to deliver gas to the outside world. European countries have quietly supported the idea, which would reduce their dependence on Russia for supplies of natural gas.
“…Any disruption in gas production because of internal turmoil could again affect natural gas supplies to Western Europe, according to an alert issued Thursday by Deutsche UFG, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank.
“Last January, Gazprom temporarily prevented supplies reaching Europe after a dispute with Ukraine over pricing. The standoff was eventually resolved through a murky deal that routed cheap Turkmen natural gas to Ukraine and resupplied the Ukrainian pipeline carrying Russian natural gas to the West.”
It’s all about the gas. The country has the world’s 4th largest reserves – and if that supply gets disrupted, we could all be screwed. There will be much frantic scrabbling around over the Christmas period while the EU, US, China and Russia (not to mention Japan, which has recently been trying to secure a gas deal with the nutty state) all try desperately to ensure that it is their own gupplies which are guaranteed. And it’s a fairly safe bet that some of our nutty Islamist friends from Afghanistan and Iran may be turning their eyes north to see if they can’t get a bit of influence going and all…