While energy importers deal with the need to ensure a steady source of energy, Central Asian gas exporters aim at securing their ability to constantly move energy “out” to markets to obtain a steady income.
“Central Asia’s Natural Gas: the Pitfalls of Energy Export Diversification,” Farkhod Aminjonov
Central Asia is one of the regions in the world that enjoy an abundance of energy resources. Possessing about 20 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, the region is becoming more and more attractive to the larger, energy thirsty powers surrounding Central Asia. While energy importers deal with the need to ensure a steady source of energy, Central Asian gas exporters aim at securing their ability to constantly move energy “out” to markets to obtain a steady income. Having experienced the negative impact of excessive dependence solely on Russian pipelines, regional exporters are now pursuing the diversification of energy export routes to gain access to various energy markets. Regional exporters require particular energy security policy considerations given their geographical situation: surrounded by larger powers (Russia, China, Europe and South Asia) that often compete for energy resources, with pipelines representing the only cost-effective way to transport energy due to the region’s landlocked status. It is also important that any attempt to keep up with international demand should by no means compromise the availability of natural gas for the local population’s needs in these countries. Moreover, if the end goal of regional exporters is to meet present energy needs without compromising energy supplies for future generations, then excessive reliance on hydrocarbons is not the most sustainable way to pursue energy security. This security policy brief examines the possible impact of diversification of energy export routes on the energy security of Central Asian natural gas exporting countries.