Policy
Saudi Springs A Surprise With Big Investment Bait
more...


Will ADNOC Partner Indiaís Crude Storage Phase-II?
more...


Indiaís NER To Become Centre Of Petroleum Products Export
more...


Clarity In Indiaís Electric Vehicles Policy At Last
more...


Factors Hampering Growth Of Indiaís Natural Gas Market
more...

Regulation
April 2019: Cruel Or Benevolent Month For Fuel Consumers?
more...


NSE Introduces Brent Crude Oil Futures Contract
more...


Search For LNG Terminal Takes GAIL To Adaniís Dhamra Project
more...


ONGC Exceeds Target In Work Over Of Wells With Oil Gain
more...

Alternative Energy / Fuel
Adani Group Begins Retailing of Solar Panel In Rajasthan
more...


IOC To Set Up Ethanol Plant In Uttar Pradesh
more...

New Projects
IOCís Ennore LNG Terminal Commissioned
more...


L&T Bags Order From ONGC
more...


Essar Oil & Gas Gets Environment Clearance For Shale Gas Exploration
more...


ONGC Sets Up Gas Collecting Station In Tripura
more...

Market Watch
IGL To Roll Out Pre Paid Gas Metering System
more...


LPG Consumption To Rise To 30 Million Tons By 2025
more...

Companies
Mahanagar Gas Ltd
more...


IGL Adds Record Number Of PNG Users This Fiscal
more...


HOEC Adds Yet Another Block To Its North East Portfolio
more...

Press Release [FREE Access]
Petro Intelligence Ľ The Great Game: Pakistan Becomes The Catís Paw

by R. Sasankan

Vladimir PutinPakistan is fast emerging as the cat’s paw in the modern version of The Great Game that is being played out in Central Asia in a bruising battle for influence and control over oil and gas markets.

The story really began with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 that saw Caucasian and Central Asian republics – Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan – break free from Kremlin’s hegemony and start to open borders with neighbours like Iran to the South, and to China in the East.

The new Central Asian republics, which were mostly run by despotic former KGB generals, emerged as the new crucible for oil and gas supplies that started to threaten the sheikdoms of the Gulf. The politics of Central Asia and the all-consuming internal strife that these leaders faced in their battle to stay in control of their countries in one sense put paid to any ideas of opening the sluice gates to fresh energy supplies for oil and gas guzzling nations like China and India.

Over time, Russia has reasserted its dominance in parts of the central Asian region while China has started to build its own bridges with countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. China has already built a 3,666 kilometre pipeline to the natural gas reserves in these three countries, taking advantage of a pricing dispute between Turkmenistan and Russian energy giant Gazprom. A fourth pipeline that will connect China to Turkmenistan via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan has, however, run in to some trouble lately.

Xi JinpingClearly, a new axis of powers has begun to emerge in the volatile region of Central Asia with Russia and China dominating the Great Game and the US – which has huge interests in the region – keeping close tabs on the developments. In my previous column titled Putin’s Great Game: A Gas Pipeline To India, which appeared on January 10, 2018, I tried to capture some of the moves on the chessboard and its implications for India. The game, of course, is much bigger and it would be wise to recall Lord Curzon’s comment in 1889. The then Viceroy of India had said: “Turkestan, Afghanistan, Transcapsia, Persia – to many these names breathe only a sense of utter remoteness or a memory of strange vicissitudes and of moribund romance. To me, I confess, they are the pieces of a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for the dominion of the world.”

A number of eminent people, including energy experts and diplomats, responded to the views expressed in my article, adding fresh insight into a swirling miasma of geopolitics. They too see an axis emerging. The former US President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, talked about the “axis of evil” to describe the governments that he accused of sponsoring terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction. Iran, Iraq and North Korea constituted Bush’s Axis of Evil. Bush drew the US and its allies into an unnecessary war in the volatile region and the world is now paying the price for his miscalculation.

I, however, am using the term “axis” in a more qualified sense shorn of any pejoratives and prejudices, to mean an economic alliance necessitated by the compulsions to market natural gas, which is a sort of lifeline for Russia and Iran. And this is where Pakistan emerges as the cat’s paw in this Great Game. Pakistan is neither a gas producer nor a potential market of any consequence for natural gas in such an alliance. But it is an important conduit that can make or mar Putin’s ultimate strategy of selling gas in the Indian market.

Hassan RouhaniPutin’s strategy obviously is to use Pakistan as route to reach the Indian market. So far, India’s opposition to the pipeline, originally proposed by Iran, was that a pipeline traversing the terrorist –infested Pakistan posed serious security problems. India cited this as the reason mainly to satisfy the United States which was opposed to Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline. Putin may be confident of dealing with the danger posed by terrorists but things have gone far beyond the terrorist threat, real or imaginary. The real danger being posed by Pakistan -- as perceived by India -- is not terrorism but the speed at which it is being sucked into the Chinese designs to spread its sphere of influence over the world through Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

It is possible that Putin may not have foreseen such a development when he decided to lay a pipeline to Pakistan from Iran to export Russia’s share of gas in Iran. There is no evidence as such that a tripartite discussion among Russia, India and Pakistan took place before Putin decided on such a gas pipeline to Pakistan. His strategy to reach Pakistan initially and enter the Indian market at a later stage made immense business sense. India would not have been averse to such a strategy as it would be ultimately beneficial to this country.

Shahid Khaqan AbbasiAccording to well-informed sources familiar with the subject, the gas alliance or axis can extend to China with the involvement of Pakistan. Not that this pipeline to Pakistan and India will be extended to reach any part of China. China already has a direct deal with Russia for gas supply through a pipeline as well as the pipelines from Central Asian republics. The next biggest market available is India which is important in Putin’s scheme of things to counter the threat from West Europe to stop Russian gas.

India, which shied away from Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, was very much in favour of the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. In the changed scenario, TAPI cannot succeed either. “I am not convinced that TAPI will materialize until the Pakistan moves out of the Chinese orbit,” said an energy expert.

Putin does not seem to be aware of the growing perception in the corridors of power in Delhi that China will use Pakistan against India. And it will bargain with India on China's ultimate objective of displacing US as the only super power left. Energy will play a key role in the determining the dynamics of this geopolitical game.

India will be a loser if Putin’s gas strategy does not succeed. Will Russia opt to liquefy Russian-owned Iranian gas in Chabahar? The alternative could be an offshore pipeline to be jointly promoted by Russia and Iran. India has the option of negotiating a special relationship with Iran but that can meet with strong resistance from the US administration. President Donald Trump looks fiercely anti-Iran and seemingly more pro-Indian than originally perceived. The US wants to keep China in check and as the price for that it should not stand in the way of India negotiating a special relationship with Iran. Putin is respected in India and his immediate priority is finding a market for gas. The Great Game is on.



To download the latest issue 'Volume 25 Issue 23 - March 10, 2019', click here
Petro Intelligence [FREE Access]
The Great Indian Rip-off
more...

US Sanctions Cast A Cloud On Chennai Petroleumís Expansion Plans
more...

War Of Words On Wisdom Of Subsidizing Refinery Exports
more...

Refinery Exports: A Bane And A Burden On Indian Consumers
more...

Foreign Investment
Elliott Group Opens New Manufacturing Facility In India
more...


AG&P To Invest In Setting Up Natural Gas Facilities In Southern India
more...

Overseas Investment
ONGC Videsh Wants To Swap South China Sea Block With Another In Vietnam
more...

Gas Scene
Advantage of strong Regulatory Environment for CGD Industry
more...


Domestic, Global Natural Gas Price Trends
more...


Market Natural Gas and CGD: Attractive Industry
more...


Adani Gas: Infrastructure Development to Propel Gas Demand India
more...


Update: Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Gas Development In India
more...


Domestic Gas Scene in January 2019
more...


LPG Business Continues Its Robust Saga
more...


Capacity Utilization of Gas Pipelines
more...


Update: PNG Connections
more...


LNG Import Projection By Industry Group
more...


Status Of Gas Pipelines Under Construction
more...


Trends In Domestic Natural Gas Price & International Bench Marks
more...


Capacity Utilization of LNG Regasification Terminals
more...


Story Of Two LNG Terminals Of Petronet LNG Ltd
more...


CNG Growth Over The Years & CNG Sales as on 1st April, 2018
more...


LNG Terminals in India
more...


CGD Factsheet As Of Sept 2018
more...


A total picture about Natural Gas scene including CBM in India
more...


State-Wise Share In CGD Business
more...

Data Section
Monthly Upstream Data
Monthly Downstream Data
Historical database
Data Archives
Special Database
Global Rig Count Vs Crude Prices
more...


Solar Power Generation Growth Likely To Outweigh Other Sources By 2022
more...


Area-wise and Total Estimate of Renewable Energy Potential
more...


Indian Rig Count vs. Indian Basket Crude Price
more...


Price of Crude in the Indian Basket processed in Indian Refineries up to February 2019
more...


Domestic Oil & Gas Production vis-ŗ-vis Overseas Production in January 2019
more...


Petroleum Products Import Declines in January 2019
more...


Crude Oil Imports Dip In January 2019
more...


Power Deficit Situation Improves In January 2019
more...


GRMs Of Indian Refineries During April-December 2018
more...


Ownership Pattern of Major Oil and Gas Companies
more...


State-Wise Balance Recoverable Crude Oil Reserves
more...


Merger & Acquisitions In The Indian Oil And Gas Sector
more...


Company-wise Length & Capacity of Product and Crude Pipelines in India
more...


Energy Transition Index for India
more...


Energy Architecture Performance Index for India
more...


Estimated Basin-wise Hydrocarbon Resources in India
more...


Categories of Indian Sedimentary Basins
more...


Forward Path for India-Economic Growth, Energy and Climate Change - Some Introspection
more...


Indiaís Declining Self- Sufficiency In Petroleum Products
more...

Tenders [FREE Access]
Cairn Oil and Gas
more...


ONGC
more...