Days after Russia sparked a brief crisis in Europe by cutting off gas to Ukraine (and therefore points west), comes another sign of Moscow using petro-politics in a bid to restore its lost Great Power status. Under the five-year deal that ended the four-day crisis, Ukraine agreed to pay Russia’s Gazprom $230 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas, as Gazprom had demanded. But Ukraine will end up paying only $95 per 1,000 cubic meters for the gas it receives in total because it will get lower priced gas from Gazprom partners in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. (AFX, Jan. 5) This will, of course, increase the pressure on Moscow to find a new outlet for the Caspian Basin hydrocrabons bypassing both Ukraine and the new West-controlled trans-Caucasus Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Right on cue, reports appear that Gazprom is seeking a stake in the planned Iran-India gas line, viewing it as a prelude for a new Iranian route from the Caspian to international markets. From India’s Business Standard, Dec. 23:
Russia’s national gas company Gazprom has shown interest in picking up a stake in the Iran-India gas pipeline, which will pass through Pakistan, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told the Lok Sabha today. The company was also prepared to participate as a contractor in the venture, he said.
The proposal from Gazprom would be considered when the governments of India, Pakistan and Iran decide on the structure of the project, the minister said. The 2,000-kilometre trans-national pipeline is expected to cost around $8 billion.
Asserting that there was no uncertainty regarding the mammoth project, Aiyar said two separate official-level joint working groups had been constituted to work out the details.
“The meetings of these working groups are being held regularly and discussions are progressing satisfactorily,” he added.
Separately, Aiyar said India was keen on participating in another gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan to India. India had been invited to join the Asian Development Bank-led project as an observer, he said.
And, as we have argued before, the possibility of Iran becoming an export route for Caspian oil increases the pressure on the US for a new military adventure against the Tehran regime.