British Petroleum has announced that Turkmen oil has begun to flow into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, bypassing Russian territory, and delivering directly to Europe.
Analytical Note: These first oil deliveries are not a significant amount of total Turkmen oil, but some analysts would like to think that it is strategically highly symbolic. However, notions that Turkmen oil delivery signals a strategic shift away from Russia fail to take into account the nature of Turkmen policy. Turkmenistan has remained a highly pragmatic international actor, and its business decisions are generally conducted with an eye towards the economic interests of the country, rather than geopolitics. Turkmenistan views long-term profit gains and generally seeks to ensure that no one country is able to establish a significant foothold over its natural resources. While American companies recently won out over Russia's LukOil (after Gazprom failed) for two Turkmen Caspian blocks, this should not be interpreted as a foreign policy move by Turkmenistan. Above all, Turkmenistan seeks to balance out the rivals for its natural resources, and the apparent recent shift towards the "West" must be viewed in this light.
By. Jen Alic