The geography of pipelineistan

Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times in Hong Kong writes about what he calls “Pipelineistan”—the region in the heartland of the Eurasian continent where China, Russia, the USA and other powers are jockeying for control of oil and gas resources and pipeline routes.   I like maps, and spent a couple of hours yesterday doing Google Image searches of maps of the region, and here is what I found.

The first map shows the recently-opened 5,400-mile natural gas pipeline, connecting China’s resource-rich, majority-Muslim Xinjiang western region with its manufacturing centers in the east.  It is the longest natural gas pipeline in the world.

1. china-east-west-gas-pipeline

Next is a map of China’s oil and gas pipelines reaching into Central Asia.   The longest is 1,100 miles, and their combined reach is 2,000 miles.  Notice the extension to the border of Iran.

2. china-central-asia-gas-pipelines

While China’s economic expansion in the post-Mao era has been mostly peaceful, the Chinese in Central Asia work with some of the most vicious tyrannies on the planet, as do the governments of Russia and the USA.  Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, for example, is a killer and torturer on a scale exceeding Saddam Hussein.

Next is a map showing China’s land and sea access to energy resources, which shows why the Chinese government prefers pipelines to vulnerable sea routes.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Next is a map Russian oil and gas resources and the Russian pipelines.  Russians sell oil and gas to both Chinese and western Europeans.

Click to enlarge

Double click to enlarge

The United States government has sought to counter China’s economic expansion by forming links with bordering countries.  The following map is from 2005, but illustrates the policy.  Notice that the United States has bases in some of the same countries where China and Russia have pipelines.


The post-Mao Chinese and post-Yeltsin Russian governments have pursued national self-interest more effectively than the U.S. government has done during the same period.  Think of all that could have been accomplished if the resources devoted during the past 30 years to military supremacy had been devoted to building up the internal economic strength of the United States.  But the same governments that have launched military interventions all over the world have failed to stand up for U.S. economic interests.  Instead we have ceded economic sovereignty to international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, which operate in the interest of global corporations, not American workers.

Click on Asia Times Online: the best of Pepe Escobar for more of Escobar’s writing.

Click on EurasiaNet and Asia Times Online: Central Asian News for news of the region.

Click on the following links for the sources of the maps and more information.

China opens world’s longest gas pipeline

Chinese energy infrastructure in Central Asia

Russia’s Eastern Strategy: Dream or Reality?

China’s Strategic Shift: the Middle Kingdom Arrives in the Middle East

Time running out on Russia-China gas stalemate

China and Russia: ‘Face’ and Something ‘Delicious’

The next map is on another topic.  It shows China’s economic expansion into Africa.  China is the largest outside investor in Africa.  It gives very little foreign aid, but reported $200 billion in trade with Africa last year.

Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

Click on China’s Xi vows to invest in Africa’s development for more.

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One Response to “The geography of pipelineistan”

  1. Pipelineistan and the New Silk Road | Earth's Energy Says:

    […] Ebersole’s Blog educates us on the geography of Pipelineistan with maps of proposed […]


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