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Page added on December 27, 2011

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Watching The World: Oil diplomacy in action

Public Policy

The oil and gas industry might want to tip its hat out of respect for work done by the Atlantic Council in the past year—especially its recently concluded Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum.

Held in Istanbul, this year’s BSEE was remarkable for many reasons, not least the ability of the Atlantic Council to bring so many key players to the table, so to speak.

The overall aim of the BSEE is to assist with the task of bringing energy security to Europe and economic security to countries in the Caspian region—especially producers like Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Indeed, one could almost say the underlying aim of the BSEE is to build a two way bridge between Europe and the Caspian region—a bridge that brings benefits to both ends while by-passing Russia.

Diversify, diversify

For Europe, the idea is to diversify away from Russia as a main supplier of gas. After all, as the Europeans have made plain for years their long-term best interest lies in having multiple suppliers.

For countries in and around the Caspian, the idea is to diversify away from Russia as a market for gas, enabling nations like Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to gain greater economic security.

Apart from suppliers and consumers, however, this year’s BSEE again brought Turkey into prominence as the land that will create the physical link between Europe and the Caspian region.

The importance of the occasion was underscored by Turkey’s government which not only provided a secure setting for the discussion, but also made its own position clear through the presence of its most senior leaders.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the country’s most senior leader to appear at the BSEE conference. But there were others, too, including Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz.

Growing importance

The ability of the Atlantic Council to bring aboard such prominent leaders is a sign of its growing importance as a facilitator of oil diplomacy or, even more broadly, energy diplomacy.

If anything was lacking at the BSEE Conference it was one single key player: Russia. Officials of the Atlantic Council assured this editor of their repeated and unsuccessful efforts to invite a delegation of Russian officials.

The absence of official Russians cannot overshadow the Atlantic Council’s remarkable achievement in Istanbul this year, but it certainly sets a goal for the coming year’s conference which, again, will be held in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, if an award could be given for the year’s outstanding contribution to oil diplomacy, then this editor would cast his vote for the Atlantic Council. Its efforts stand as a model for others to emulate around the globe.

Oil Gas Jounral

One Comment on "Watching The World: Oil diplomacy in action"

  1. BillT on Tue, 27th Dec 2011 2:37 pm 

    Europe cannot get away from Russia’s natural gas…no matter what the oil industry wants to believe.

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