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The Language of Pipelines

by : Lars Schall
Tuesday September 14, 2010 - 20:32

The Language of Pipelines

Samstag, 11. September 2010 05:23 von Lars Schall

The historian Dr. Daniele Ganser from the University of Basel, Switzerland, answers in the following interview questions related to the “National Energy Policy Development Group” of 2001, Peak Oil and the connection to pipelines in Central Asia. According to Dr. Ganser it is very doubtful that NATO will succeed in Afghanistan in order to built the proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan/India.

Dr. Daniele Ganser, born 1972, is an historian and peace researcher at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and has been a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. His research focuses on the peak oil matter, resource wars, the so-called “war on terror”, and geostrategy. He is furthermore the author of the groundbreaking book “NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe” (Routledge, February 2005).

Dr Ganser, in Spring of 2001 the “National Energy Policy Development Group“, NEPDG, met in the White House. The documents and working papers of the “Energy Task Force” are shut away. Is there any reason to assume that these documents contain specific and detailed information with regards to global oil and gas reserves? And if so, wouldn’t it be necessary and urgent to publish these documents, especially as the official information about energy reserves, with which e.g. the International Energy Agency operates, does not seem to be reliable?

Indeed, it would be very interesting if the NEPDG documents would be made accessible for research purposes. I assume that the NEPDG discussed the Peak Oil problem – the question when the maximum of global oil production will be reached – in depth. Vice President Dick Cheney as the former CEO of Halliburton has a clear understanding of the Peak Oil problem. He knows that in many regions and nations worldwide oil production collapses. Additionally, we know that NEPDG has closely examined and discussed the matter of the oil fields in Iraq, which – according to my opinion – has directly influenced the outbreak of the Iraq War in March 2003.

The IEA numbers as provided in the World Energy Outlook (WEO) – you were exactly right on that – have led to enormous uncertainty among experts. First, the IEA declared that it would be possible to increase oil production until 2030 up to 120 million barrels per day, starting from 85 million barrels per day today. Thus: No Peak in sight in the near future. However, only shortly afterwards these numbers were adjusted downward, in the WEO 2009 to 105 mbd. Now an IEA insider claims that also this number is not correct and that the world will never be able to produce more than 90 to 95 mbd. Thus, there exists considerable confusion regarding the IEA numbers and the peak seems to be closer than most people think and the NEPDG has probably anticipated this development.

Apart from the ongoing discussion whether Peak Oil is real or not: Can we believe that people like Dick Cheney and Matthew Simmons assumed that Peak Oil is real when the NEPDG was meeting? And would it be possible – although never admitted officially – that this is the primary background of the meeting to discuss how to deal with this problem in the future?

Yes, I believe that is possible. Peak Oil is certainly real, oil is limited, at least for the time-frames we can think in. If we had time for millions of years oil would be renewable. But that is not the case. Now, it is all a matter of timing how to deal with the change. At the moment it seems that renewable energies cannot adequately fill the gap that peak oil will create. Of course, I have read about the abiotic theory, which, however, does not convince me.

But if we take it seriously now...

... then the main point is: If oil cannot flow into the old fields quickly enough the production in the fields collapses. That is observable.

In Spring of 2001 the US military made the plan to conduct the invasion of Afghanistan – that means first of all: during the time the so called Energy Task Force met, and second: many months before the attacks of 9/11. What kind of role did the double pipeline project play that was planned from the Caspian Sea to the Pakistani coast?

The plans for the construction of the pipeline from Turkmenistan over Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean (TAPI) were signed by the Karzai government in 2002. One does want to build that pipeline, however, because the war is still destabilizing the country, this is not possible at the moment.

From the viewpoint of the USA and the EU the pipeline is important as it allows the transfer of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea without crossing Russia in the North or Iran in the South. By the way, that was also the reason for building the Baku-Tiblisi-Cheyhan-Pipeline (BTC), which was opened 2006 and which leads from Azerbaidzhan westwards up to Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea. It is very important to observe the construction of pipelines from a global perspective. This “pipeline-language” is a lot clearer than war propaganda that seeks to cause confusion.

Does the pipeline projects and the abundance of energy and other mineral resources that can be found in that region play a role with regards to the fact that the war in Afghanistan is still taking place? To put it in other words: Can the USA and NATO members afford to win that war as a peace agreement would force them to give up their position?

In Germany, hardly anyone talks about these pipelines. But in my opinion they are an important reason for the war the USA and NATO are conducting in Afghanistan. I do not think that it is very likely that NATO will win that war; the Afghani people do not accept an occupation; that is what also the British and the Russian had to experience. Apart from that they cultivate vendetta and count their casualties accurately. For every dead Afghani from one of their clans they want to kill one NATO soldier.

If despite these security problems it is nevertheless possible to build a pipeline and if a puppet government will safeguard it remains to be seen. It is also possible that the pipeline will never be built and that the USA and Germany as well as other NATO countries will lose in Afghanistan. Or it is possible that Turkmenistan will sell its gas to China and build another pipeline together with the Chinese. One has to see what the outcome will be of this ongoing energy struggle.

It would be important, however, to get a statement of the new German government with regards to the plans for the pipeline and their impact on the war. I have not yet seen one. It is almost a taboo in Germany to talk about that pipeline because it contradicts the official rhetoric of the war. Only when they have left their public office also German politicians engage in the global pipeline game such as Gerhard Schröder for the North Stream Pipeline of the Russians and Joschka Fischer for the Nabucco Pipeline of the EU. Pipeline politics are closely intertwined with geostrategic deliberations. That is for sure.

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