Robert M. Cutler

Archives for Southwest Asia

In recent days, energy diplomats on both the Azerbaijani and Turkish sides have revealed that an agreement in principle over the price that Turkey will pay for Shah Deniz gas from Azerbaijan has been reached. However, there are several ongoing sets of simultaneous negotiations over Shah Deniz, also taking place in the context of larger implicit bargaining games over other the Caspian Sea basin deposits of natural gas and indeed the geo-economics of their supply to Europe over the next several decades. These subtleties must be unpacked in order to understand the wide-ranging significance of even seemingly small agreements.

Posted by Robert Cutler

Reconfiguring Nabucco

With the entry of Iraq into the mix of potential suppliers of natural gas for the Nabucco pipeline to Europe and the proliferation of alternative supply lines beyond the Russian-sponsored rival South Stream pipeline, the “classical” variant of the Nabucco pipeline is undergoing significant modification, just as it moves closer to final realization.

Posted by Robert Cutler

Azerbaijan looks past Turkey

Azerbaijan’s efforts to diversify gas export routes and reduce its reliance on Turkey as a transit country for moving the fuel on to Europe are increasing as its negotiations with Ankara over supplies continue to face difficulties. As talks with drag on with Turkey, Azerbaijan has recently added Iran and Bulgaria to its customer base.

Posted by Robert Cutler

Prepared remarks to the Wilton Park Conference The South Caucasus and Wider Black Sea Neighbourhood: Regional Developments and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Wiston House, West Sussex (U.K.), 23–26 November 2009.

Regarding the perspective on the past and future of Caspian Sea basin energy geo-economics, two observations establish the basis on which to proceed.

Posted by Robert Cutler

The Rise of the Rimland?

Recent energy and other developments in Southwest Asia, particularly involving Turkey, Iran and Iraq, sketch the outline of an imminent reorganization of international relations in the region. This will have knock-on effects for Eurasia as a whole and the shape of the international system in coming decades. At the same time, it suggests new and unexpected relevance of the mid-20th century geopolitical theorist Nicolas Spykman.

Posted by Robert Cutler

In all the debate and speculation over the various pipelines planned for the Caspian-South Caucasus corridor and adjacent regions (Nabucco, South Stream, White Stream, and Trans-Caspian Gas Pipelines in addition to various oil pipeline projects), the troubled state of energy relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey has been lost from view, mainly due to their stellar cooperation in the past over the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and South Caucasus Pipeline for gas in particular.

Posted by Robert Cutler