The New Great Game - Oil and Gas Politics in Central Eurasia
In his new book The New Great Game - Oil and Gas Politics in Central Eurasia Pakistani BrigGen (ret) Dr. Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi (Makni), a member of the International Advisory Board of the World Security Network Foundation, the author takes the title from the history of the region.
The “old great game” was the great power struggle in the region in the middle of the 19th Century, brilliantly described by Peter Hopkirk in his book “The Great Game.” Russia, the United Kingdom and France fought over decades to acquire the region as a geo-strategic stronghold with view to Central Asia and India – the British colony. No power has been able to conquer and maintain control over the region for a very long period of time.
Nowadays, Eurasia - with its pillars formed by Central Asia and the Caspian–Caucasus - is even more attractive and more important than 150 years ago. The key words here are oil and gas. Central Eurasia – plus the Persian Gulf – owns more than 70 percent of the world’s known reserves of oil and gas.
Dr.Makni offers the results of his very intensive research. His graphics and statistics offer a clear picture of the region’s present status and the future.
There are two conflicting lines: One is the decreasing production of oil and gas. The other is the drastic increase in demand for oil and gas from nearly all industrialized countries in the world.
Dr. Makni gives evidence that 33 out of the main 42 oil producing countries in the world have already crossed the peak of their available oil reserves. The world’s oil reserves will be exhausted at the latest in 2040. Some experts foresee that this will happen years earlier.
On the other hand, the world’s oil consumption is drastically increasing. The main drivers are the US, China, India, Japan and the EU. Countries like Russia are in a temporary strong position and they exploit the present advantage. When both lines meet, the world’s economic posture will change dramatically. Now, the New Great Game is much more complicated than it was 150 years ago.
There are more global players in the game on both sides: The producers and the consumers. Russia, Central Eurasia, Iran and the Gulf States are the main producers. It is legitimate that they try to make the best of the present situation. The consumers are fighting for the best possible access to the production sites. In this part of the game, the pipelines for oil and gas win in significance. It is a geo-political and geo-strategic decision as to where the pipelines to the consumers should go, thus favoring one side and punishing the other.
The US, China, the EU, India and Japan – to name the greatest demanders – are already fighting to safeguard their vital economic interests. The big transnational oil and gas companies complete the players involved.
It is obvious that the foreseen gap between production and consumption cannot be filled by renewable energy or by reducing consumption. It comes as no surprise that many countries want to build nuclear power plants. The conflict over oil and gas resources is already inevitable.
Dr. Makni expresses the hope that all parties involved will be willing and able to find a way to mitigate the arising problems – peacefully. The worst-case scenario is a war on oil and gas. A war would disrupt the flow from the producers to the consumers with fatal consequences. Without blood there is no life. There is a lot at stake.
Dr.Makni delivers a wakeup call. It should be taken seriously. There is no time to lose.
This book is a “must read” for all of us, not just for politicians and economists.
BrigGen (ret) Dr. Muhammad Aslam KhanNiazi (Makni): The New Great Game-Oil and Gas Politics in Central Eurasia, Raider Publishing International (www.RaiderPublishing.com), New York – London - Swansea