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Lets look at the oil and natural gas pipelines that run through the Middle East and Syria and why this conflict is really about Europe's addiction to oil in 2017.
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Syria itself is not a major energy producer in the region, however its importance lies as a potential transit hub from energy suppliers like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq towards the thirsty energy markets of Europe. Notably proposed pipelines of major energy projects would pass through Syria , into Turkey and then enter the European grid. With the onset of the Civil war in Syria, the proposed pipeline projects have all been put on hold and their future is unclear. The most important aspect of this, is Europes need for energy diversity.
Europe and Russia
The EU’s energy thirst is estimated to be the second largest in the world after the United States. Notably, some 70- 80% of its energy requirements are satisfied by Russian gas and oil, piped in mostly through Ukraine. Disputes between Ukraine and Russia over energy first publicly surfaced in 2002 and culminated in 2009 when Russia cut supplies to Ukraine for short period of time, setting off panic in European capitals. This made the issue of Europes energy reliance on Russia more pressing. The subsequent Civil war in Ukraine is also deeply linked to this relationship. But this will be examined in a later video so please Subscribe with the button below if you want to hear more about that. European leaders came to the understanding that Europe needed a more diverse energy environment. Backed by the United States they sought to bring energy supplies, mainly from the energy rich Middle East into Europe. Syria’s position as a important transit route elevated the need for an agreement with the Syrian government that would bring supplies from the energy rich Gulf and Saudi Arabia into Europe, bypassing Russia .
The Syrian Pipelines
A Pipeline was proposed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar ,backed by the United States , which would use Syria as a transit route. The Pipelines would Saudi- Qatar pipeline would pass through Jodan - Syria and Turkey before entering Europe. The Syrian Government rejected the proposal. Syria's rationale for the rejection the Saudi-Qatari pipeline proposal was said to be "to protect the interests of [its] Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas."
A competing Pipelines was also proposed dubbed The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline . A natural gas pipeline running from Iran towards Europe via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to supply European customers as well as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The pipelines ran into numerous problems mostly from US pressure and its Swiss backers have since stopped its financing.
The earliest proposed Pipeline intended to bypass Russia was the Nabucco Pipeline. Which aims to bring Caucasus and Iraqi oil through Turkey, the balkans and ending in Austria. This project is also supported by a number of EU member states and the United States. The project was later scrapped in favour of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline , which has now been almost completed and will start by bringing BP’s Azerbaijani Energy through Turkey - Greece- Albanian into Italy. The project is aimed to start supplying oil and gas by 2018 and the pipeline itself is in the final stages of competition. Once ready, this will be the first major means of energy diversification in Europe.