Energy Articles

The Realist Prism

Time for the U.S. to Make Hard Choices on Russia, Middle East

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

It is the misfortune of the Obama administration to preside over the unraveling of several long-term U.S. strategies in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The tactics used by previous administrations to delay making hard choices in the hope that problems would resolve themselves without Washington being required to make sacrifices are no longer available, as the crises in both regions make abundantly clear. more

New Agenda Reflects Growing Energy Role for Lusophone Bloc

By Francisco Galamas
, , Briefing

Last week, the 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, held in East Timor, accepted a new member: Equatorial Guinea, the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa. With Equatorial Guinea, the CPLP is collectively now the fourth-largest oil exporter in the world, demonstrating its shifting focus from political and cultural issues to economic ones. more

The Realist Prism

On Iran and Russia, Obama Gambling for More Time

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

Though it is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition, in recent months congressional Democrats have been more willing to publicly voice critiques of the president’s performance. But Obama appears to be willing to swallow his pride and suffer domestic political attacks if it buys him time and maneuvering room.

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Japan Deepens Ties With Central Asia, but Still Trails Russia, China

By J. Berkshire Miller
, , Briefing

Last week, Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with his Central Asian counterparts in Bishkek as part of the fifth Central Asia Plus Japan Dialogue. Initiated in 2004, the dialogue has served as the foundation for recent ties between Tokyo and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. This year’s meeting focused on economic cooperation and potential security collaboration. more

Global Insider

Argentina Looking to Cement Its Role as Nuclear Power

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Argentina signed a nuclear energy deal with Russia last week, the latest step in Argentina’s push to expand its nuclear industry. Irma Arguello, chair of the NPSGlobal Foundation, discussed Argentina’s nuclear energy policy in an email interview. more

Global Insider

Why Carbon Taxes, Despite Their Effectiveness, Have Hit Roadblocks

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Australia's new senate is working to repeal the country's unpopular carbon tax. In an email interview, Shi-Ling Hsu, the Larson Professor of Law at the Florida State University College of Law and author of “The Case for a Carbon Tax: Getting Past our Hang-ups to Effective Climate Policy,” discussed the role of carbon taxes in national climate change policies. more

Heavily Invested, China Cannot Escape the Iraq Powder Keg

By Emanuele Scimia
, , Briefing

Like it did with the crisis in Ukraine, China is trying to keep out of the chaos in Iraq. But as Iraq’s government confronts the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it will be hard for China to preserve a policy of noninterference. This time around, China cannot keep out of another sovereign nation’s internal affairs—until now a cornerstone of its diplomacy—given Beijing’s huge economic interests in Iraq. more

India’s Latest IAEA Deal Too Little, Too Late to Undo NPT Damage

By Miles A. Pomper
, , Briefing

India’s ratification of an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency is the country’s latest step to implement a controversial nuclear cooperation agreement reached with the U.S. in 2008. But the pact has yet to produce the promised economic benefits for the two countries. And its strategic benefits have been decidedly mixed, including striking a significant blow to nonproliferation. more

World Citizen

In Venezuela, Party Divisions Are Maduro’s Greatest Challenge Yet

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has struggled from the moment his mentor, Hugo Chavez, named him as his successor. Maduro faced countless crises: an economy circling the drain, crime rates skyrocketing and huge opposition protests. In recent weeks, the most dangerous of all Maduro’s problems has emerged: a fracturing of support among Chavista loyalists. If Maduro loses his party, he will lose power. more

Global Insights

Park’s Central Asia Tour Reaffirms South Korea’s Eurasian Vision

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s high-profile six-day visit to Central Asia last week imparted further momentum to her “Eurasia initiative," intended to deepen South Korean ties with that energy-rich but geopolitically volatile region. The trip also highlighted South Korea’s value to Washington at a time when U.S. influence in the region is declining due to the ebbing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. more

The Realist Prism

Russia’s Energy Ambitions Explain Putin’s Zigzags on Ukraine

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

How to explain Vladimir Putin’s zigzags on Ukraine? Putin’s long-term goal is to prevent Ukraine’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic world. In the short term, however, there is a lodestone that accounts for the shifts in Russia’s Ukraine policy: completing Russia’s emergence as the world’s energy superpower. This involves accomplishing two major projects: the South Stream pipeline and the opening of the Arctic. more

With Eye on Oil, China Raises Security Profile in South Sudan

By Martha Molfetas
, , Briefing

China has agreed to deploy additional peacekeepers to South Sudan, significantly raising its security profile there. With the failure of two cease-fires in South Sudan’s six-month-long conflict, China has committed a brigade of 850 soldiers to the U.N. peacekeeping mission, bringing the force’s total deployment to roughly 20,000. The move reinforces a shift for China, from noninvolvement toward forging peace. more

Turkey, Iran Compartmentalize Ties to Sidestep Differences

By Aaron Stein
, , Briefing

After months of sharp disagreement about the conflict in Syria, Turkey is eager to compartmentalize its relationship with Iran and focus on areas where the two countries can cooperate. Yet, despite attempts to brand the recent visit to Ankara of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “turning point,” the two sides continue to have serious disagreements about energy, the Syrian war and regional issues. more

Global Insider

Turkey Positions Itself as Regional Energy Player

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

The controversial first shipment of oil from the Kurdish region of Iraq was exported through Turkey last month; meanwhile, Turkey is trying to expand its energy cooperation with Central Asian states. In an email interview, Gareth Winrow, an independent Turkey analyst, discussed Turkey’s energy priorities and key energy partners. more

Global Insights

EU Seeks Energy Security Solutions to Russian Gas Challenge

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

On May 28, the European Commission released its comprehensive energy security strategy. Although the immediate goal is to avert another winter energy crisis, the long-term objective is to reduce EU reliance on vulnerable foreign energy supplies, especially from Russia. Europe’s core challenge is that its energy demand will rise by an estimated 27 percent by 2030, while EU domestic energy production is falling. more

Global Insider

Oil Rig Crisis Threatens Booming China-Vietnam Ties

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Tensions have been running high between China and Vietnam over China’s installation of an oil rig in disputed waters, with anti-China riots erupting in Vietnam in May. In an email interview, Carlyle Thayer, professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales, explained how the maritime dispute threatens the otherwise booming China-Vietnam relationship. more

India’s Modi Takes a Step Toward New Era of Relations With Pakistan

By Rupakjyoti Borah
, , Briefing

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi scored his first diplomatic coup by receiving Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at his swearing-in ceremony Monday. The fact that Sharif came shows his willingness to stand up to Pakistan’s hard-liners in an effort to normalize relations with India. For his part, Modi may be better positioned than his predecessor to work toward a new era of India-Pakistan relations. more

The Realist Prism

Kazakhstan a Model for Ukraine in Accommodating Russia

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

With chaos continuing in Ukraine, the country’s new president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, and his team might want to consider learning from how another mid-sized Eurasian state has managed its relationship with the Russian bear. This week, in a ceremony overshadowed by the events in Ukraine, Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the agreements formally creating the Eurasian Economic Union with Russia. more

South Sudan Conflict Destabilizes Ethiopia’s Regional Strategy

By Harry Verhoeven
, , Briefing

Once that of an impoverished, war-torn nation, Ethiopia’s international image is now exemplified by the construction of the Renaissance Dam, Africa’s biggest infrastructure project. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn continues to pursue his predecessor’s dream of establishing Ethiopia as a regional hegemon through energy diplomacy. But South Sudan’s conflict and its regional dimensions now threaten this vision. more

Details of China-Russia Gas Deal Put ‘Historic’ Agreement in Perspective

By Thijs Van de Graaf
, , Briefing

On May 21, after a decade of negotiations, Russia signed a gas deal with China. The $400 billion agreement foresees the delivery of 38 bcm of Siberian gas a year to China for 30 years. Commentators were quick to call the deal “historic,” and Putin trumpeted it as “the biggest contract in the history of the gas sector of the former USSR.” But a closer look at some of the details puts the agreement in perspective. more

For India, Russia, Diversifying Energy Ties a Natural Fit

By Saurav Jha
, , Briefing

Russia and India are reportedly considering a $30 billion oil pipeline that would transit through China’s Xinjiang province. The discussions, when seen in the context of other bilateral hydrocarbon initiatives between India and Russia, show that Russia is cultivating India in addition to China as part of its accelerated move away from dependence on European markets amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis. more