Managing Asia Pacific's Energy Dependence on the Middle East: Is There a Role for Central Asia?
Kang Wu and Fereidun Fesharaki
AsiaPacific Issues, No. 60
Honolulu: East-West Center
The Middle East is Asia Pacific's largest energy supplier, satisfying a demand for oil that must keep pace with the region's continued economic growth. This dependence on the Middle East has caused Asia Pacific to join the United States and other Western nations in the hunt for alternative suppliers. Central Asia, located between the Middle East and Asia Pacific and already an oil and gas exporter, is an attractive possibility. With energy production projected to rise rapidly over the next decade, Central Asia is poised to become a major player in the world energy market. But the land-locked region's options for transporting oil and gas to Asia Pacific markets are limited and problematic. Passage via pipeline east through China presents construction challenges; south through Iran, or through India and Pakistan via Afghanistan, is fraught with political difficulties. Not until geopolitics become more favorable to the south-bound options, or technologies make the China route possible, will Asia Pacific be able to tap the energy resources of Central Asia.