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Energy, Economics, and Politics in the Caspian Region: Dreams and Realities

Energy, Economics, and Politics in the Caspian Region: Dreams and Realities

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The potential of energy resources in the Caspian region (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) has attracted much attention since the demise of the Soviet Union. Many industry analysts in the United States and other developed nations consider oil supplies from the Caspian a strong alternative to the Persian Gulf, and believe that a new reliance on its resources can reduce the perennial Western vulnerability to price increases and threatened cutoffs. But is the region capable of fulfilling that role? The relatively low demand for natural gas worldwide, the transitory and often perilous political situation in the Caspian, and the uncertainty regarding the region's oil-producing capabilities in general make estimates of its potential to alleviate energy demands seem dubious. Maureen Crandall's revealing study of relevant economic and security issues clearly separates what can and cannot be expected from this strategically important, yet politically unstable region.