• 5 hours Oil Prices Rise After API Reports Major Crude Draw
  • 6 hours Citgo President And 5 VPs Arrested On Embezzlement Charges
  • 6 hours Gazprom Speaks Out Against OPEC Production Cut Extension
  • 7 hours Statoil Looks To Lighter Oil To Boost Profitability
  • 8 hours Oil Billionaire Becomes Wind Energy’s Top Influencer
  • 9 hours Transneft Warns Urals Oil Quality Reaching Critical Levels
  • 10 hours Whitefish Energy Suspends Work In Puerto Rico
  • 11 hours U.S. Authorities Arrest Two On Major Energy Corruption Scheme
  • 23 hours Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 1 day Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 1 day South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 1 day Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 1 day Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 1 day Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 2 days ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 4 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 4 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 4 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 4 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 4 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 4 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 5 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 5 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 5 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 5 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 5 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 5 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 5 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 6 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 6 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 6 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 6 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 6 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 6 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 6 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 6 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 7 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 7 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 7 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 7 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
Alt Text

The Undisputed Leader Of Tomorrow’s Oil & Gas Markets

According to the Executive Director…

Alt Text

The Wireless Power Grid: More Than A 100 Years In The Making

In fulfilling Nikola Tesla’s dreams,…

Alt Text

Are Oil Markets Immune To U.S. Shale?

Oil prices have maintained their…

The Jamestown Foundation

The Jamestown Foundation

Founded in 1984, The Jamestown Foundation is an independent, non-partisan research institution dedicated to providing timely information concerning critical political and strategic developments in China,…

More Info

NATO Energy Security Threatened By Karabakh Conflict

Karabakh Conflict

The periodic escalation of violence in and around the separatist Azerbaijani territory of Karabakh routinely raises concerns about this conflict’s threat to regional energy security and pipeline infrastructure. However, few commentaries analyze this issue’s broader geopolitical implications in any detail. The intense fighting between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan along the Line of Contact last month—often referred to as the “Four Days War” (April 2–5)—had serious humanitarian repercussions. But the violence also notably underscored the vulnerability of regional energy infrastructure located on Europe’s and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) strategic southeastern flank—namely, the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipelines, the South Caucasus Natural Gas Pipeline, and nearby oil and gas terminals.

On April 5, the “defense ministry” of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic warned that it was prepared to carry out offensive strikes against Azerbaijan’s oil facilities using Iskander, Scud-B and Tochka-U systems (Newsarmenia.am, April 5). It is no secret that Armenia has already deployed anti-aircraft, air-defense and missile-defense systems in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and has held military exercises in Karabakh to simulate possible attacks and air strike scenarios on Azerbaijan’s oil and gas infrastructure (Azatutyun.am, October 15, 2012). Moreover, former prime minister of Armenia and current member of parliament Hrant Bagratyan, along with retired Armenian Major General Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan, threatened Azerbaijan with the use of nuclear weapons and dirty bombs by the Armenian side (Armtoday.info, April 29; Rusarminfo.ru, May 3).

The physical security of the South Caucasus’ strategic energy infrastructure, as well as the continued secure transport of oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, is of growing importance to the energy security of NATO’s European allies. Moreover, an uninterrupted energy supply is also imperative to ensure the Alliance’s operational mobility abroad and to reduce its members’ strong dependence on any single third-party supplier. Any attack or security threat to regional energy fields, terminals, pipelines, storage sites and other transportation facilities would undermine the oil and gas flow from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to European and global markets. A similar case already occurred during the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war, when Russian military jets dropped bombs near the BTC and Baku-Supsa oil pipelines, resulting in the temporary suspension of Azerbaijani oil exports through Georgia (Stevelevine.info, August 14, 2008; see EDM, August 13, 2008).

Hence, the North Atlantic Alliance has repeatedly emphasized a collective approach toward ensuring energy security. This, along with preserving a stable energy supply, maintaining the security of transportation facilities and transit routes, as well as developing NATO’s competence in protecting energy infrastructure are highlighted in the Alliance’s Riga, Bucharest and Wales Summit Declarations as well as its 2010 Strategic Concept (Nato.int, November 29, 2006; April 3, 2008; November 19–20, 2010;September 5, 2014).

Although the protection of domestic infrastructure is generally entrusted to the host country or owner, today’s security threats increasingly call for shared responsibility, collective endeavors and multilateral security guarantees for the protection of critical energy transit networks and facilities. NATO’s security guarantee encompasses member states only, not partners. Thus, Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli, a vice president with the international oil firm BP, has suggested formulating a new concept for NATO—a kind of “Article 4.5”—that could contribute to the protection of critical trans-border and trans-regional energy infrastructure. This innovation would involve providing security guarantees to Azerbaijan and Georgia in the event of security threats against pipelines or energy facilities that directly or indirectly concern NATO member states. Moreover, such protection of critical energy infrastructure could be done through complementary engagement and without an over-militarization of energy security. The nature of the North Atlantic Alliance’s possible engagement in helping protect Azerbaijan’s energy infrastructure can be articulated as follows: providing defensive devices for pipelines; offering assistance for developing an air-defense system; cooperating on cyber security; sharing of intelligence; training the armed forces; accelerating consultations with NATO’s relevant structures; facilitating the defensive military assistance for Azerbaijan; engaging with other public and private stakeholders; etc. (Cijournal.az, January 18).

In fact, the timing of last April’s fighting in Karabakh—occurring just a couple months before NATO’s July Warsaw summit—deserves closer attention. Conspicuously, armed clashes broke out following several months of high-level supportive Western statements regarding the strategic Southern Gas Corridor currently under construction, which will deliver Azerbaijani gas across the South Caucasus, via Turkey, to Europe. In particular, the European Union’s High Representative Federica Mogherini spoke supportively about this project on February 29, at the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council meeting. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made similarly positive remarks on March 30, during his meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, at the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington. And notably, since late last year, the construction of two key legs of the Southern Gas Corridor—the Trans-Anatolia Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)—are being accelerated, while the European Commission
has approved the agreement between Greece and TAP (Eeas.europa.eu, February 29; State.gov, March 30;Apa.az, December 7, 2015; Trend.az, November 27, 2015; Europa.eu, March 3). Related: Why The Bust For Offshore Drillers Might Last Another 2 Years

The timing of the April 2016 escalation in Karabakh on the eve of the upcoming Warsaw summit is even more noteworthy when looked at in retrospect. Indeed, prior to NATO’s Wales summit in September 2014, a similar (but small scale) escalation occurred along the Line of Contact in August 2014 (RFE/RL August 4, 2014), and both instances of violent escalation were ultimately extinguished by Russia’s direct intervention. The apparent signal being sent to the Alliance via these latest clashes can, thus, be clearly deduced.

The possible eruption of full-scale war between Azerbaijan and Armenia would have a profoundly negative effect on the energy infrastructure of the entire region, but especially on that of Azerbaijan. And such a scenario would have catastrophic effects on foreign investments in the energy sector and for ongoing trans-regional energy projects, such as the Southern Gas Corridor. As such, the unresolved Karabakh conflict is a great concern not only to the parties immediately involved, but to NATO and the broader West as well.

By Ilgar Gurbanov via Jamestown.org

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • ARM on May 29 2016 said:
    One should remind Ilgar Gurbanov (azerbaijani writer of the above article) the April's four days war was in the result of Azerbaijan's aggressive adventure despite OSCE on going peace process and neglect of basic peace step no-use-of-force to regain Karabakh by military way.
    I believe NATO should concern for Azerbaijan's behaves and jeopardizing the regional security and resume a war again, meanwhile leaves Armenia no choice but to defend its people from another genocide by Turkish nation, who done it once before, and they don't afraid to show their hatred towards Armenians.
  • MAD on May 30 2016 said:
    OK then.
    This article "smells" like a propaganda article of the same writing style written during the cold war.
    Lets get something straight, the issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan are well within Russia's sphere of influence and they arent about to allow the EU or the US to start meddling in their regional backyard.

    Further, it appears that there is plenty to be lost by both sides for them to not to come to a political agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh.....especially on the Azerbaijan side that has a vested economic investment that would be certainly take damage if a conflict broke out.

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News