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Could Oil be the reason Britian and America rushed into this conflict?
Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2001

East and west are jockeying for influence in the Caucasus.
The prize is oil and gas

By Richard Norton-Taylor
GUARDIAN UK - A new and potentially explosive Great Game is being set up and few in Britain are aware of it. There are many players: far more than the two - Russia and Britain - who were engaged a century ago in imperial rivalry in central Asia and the north-west frontier. more

The oil behind Bush and Son's campaigns
By Ranjit Devraj
NEW DELHI - Just as the Gulf War in 1991 was all about oil, the new conflict in South and Central Asia is no less about access to the region's abundant petroleum resources, according to Indian analysts. more

The New Gold Mines of Central Asia
Dr. Walid Majid, Institue for Afghan Studies
It turns out that the Central Asian republics of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are sitting on what is thought to be one of the world's largest reserves of oil and gas. The total worth of the reserves is estimated to be somewhere between $2.5-$3.5 trillion at today's market prices.

Despite the vast resources, their current energy production is dwarfed by what could be in store in the coming decades. With their current low level of production and poor infra-structure everyone of these republics is in dire need of foreign capital as well as modern technology to exploit their buried natural reserves. Further complicating their plans, everyone of these new republics is landlocked, forcing them to find ways and means to reach consumer markets. By some accounts they need something like $50-$70 billion of foreign investment in the coming decades to enable them to extract and transport to energy hungry markets in Europe and Asia. (1) more

Lebanese-American businessman testified before the Senate
PBS - Richard Tamraz, a Lebanese-American businessman, testified before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that he donated $300,000 dollars to the Democratic National Committee to change U.S. policy towards plans to build a pipeline in Central Asia, but he is not the only one interested in bringing the oil out of the Caspian Sea region. Margaret Warner discusses the how geopolitics and oil money intersect with two experts. more

Afghan Pipeline: A New Great Game
BBC - Great-power interest in Afghanistan is once again rising, thanks to plans to build a new pipeline across the country, taking gas from landlocked Central Asia to Pakistan and world markets. In October the project took a step closer to reality with the signing of a deal between Turkmenistan, the primary source of the gas, and an international consortium led by the American UNOCAL company. But the problem, of course, is the continuing civil war in Afghanistan - and who, if anyone, in Afghanistan can guarantee security for the pipeline. Here's our regional analyst Malcolm Haslett: more

Unocal 'Smoking Gun' Alleged
By William Branigin Washington Post Staff Writer
Attorneys for a group of Burmese refugees say they have discovered a "smoking gun" document supporting their claims that a major U.S. oil company should be held accountable for human rights violations related to construction of a natural gas pipeline in Burma.

The 15 plaintiffs, representing thousands who fled to the Burma-Thailand border in the early 1990s, charge that Unocal Corp. and the French oil firm Total SA, partners in the project with the Burmese government, were complicit in human rights abuses by Burmese forces. The abuses allegedly included the forced relocation of entire villages, the use of slave labor, and numerous deaths, beatings, rapes and property seizures. Unocal denies the charges. more

A Taliban delegation visited Unocal's offices in Sugarland
When Kabul fell to Taliban forces, the US Oil company UNOCAL shocked world public opinion by announcing its optimism about developments in Afghanistan. The Taliban victory was perceived as a positive sign. It was revealed that UNOCAL had been involved in negotiations with Taliban over a gas pipeline construction project that is designed to pass through western Afghanistan, delivering Turkmen gas to Pakistan. Before the escalation of fighting in Afghanistan, Chris Taggart, UNOCAL's executive vice-president in charge of the gas pipeline project, told Reuters his company was providing "non-cash bonus payments" to Taliban in return for their cooperation with this US$2 billion project. The Saudi Arabian Delta Oil Company is also a project partner and is believed to have had contacts with Taliban. more

Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline
BBC - A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan. A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company's headquarters in Sugarland, Texas. Unocal says it has agreements both with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it. more

Ironies of the current crisis
CURWOOD: One of the ironies of the current crisis of terrorism is that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban both enjoyed American support not so very long ago. In the '80s, the U.S. encouraged fighters from across the Arab world to go to Afghanistan and repel the Soviet invasion. Once the Soviets were defeated, this force stayed in Afghanistan and from there began exporting their violent politics. more

US Department of Energy
Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan, which was under serious consideration in the mid-1990s. The idea has since been undermined by Afghanistan's instability. Since 1996, most of Afghanistan has been controlled by the Taliban movement, which the United States does not recognize as the government of Afghanistan. more

Unocal Looks To Afghanistan's Taliban For New Profits
The Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan will begin pumping gas to Pakistan through Afghanistan by the year 2001 under an agreement signed on July 23rd by the two countries with proposed pipeline builders. A senior Unocal official said that all major factions in Afghanistan, including the dominant Taliban Islamic movement, had also signed project support agreements or letters. more

But Unocal now denies that a firm agreement was ever reached
The company is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan. more

Gas pipeline could be a pipe dream
BBC - Two years ago, Unocal thought it had found the perfect route via Afghanistan to tap Turkmenistan's abundant natural gas and sell it to the energy-hungry markets of Pakistan and India. It then quickly found eager partners to share in the risks and began the quest for financing the $2bn project. more

Still, in 1999 reports from Pakistan suggested that Unocal was considering rejoining Centgas. Unocal vehemently denied the reports.


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