Turkey, Britain And Oil

Sometimes in the world (if not so often in the US), foreign policy really isn't about Israel. A reader writes:

The recent screeching coming from the neocon stands with regard to Turkey seem to miss the fact Turkey is emerging as the major energy broker of the region with the help of the UK. Take the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline for instance. As its name implies, this pipeline takes crude oil from the Caspian fields all the way to the Mediterranean Turkish sea port of Ceyhan. The pipeline, which came into full operation in May 2006, has for its largest shareholder a company called BP (30.1%). Then there is the South Caucasus pipeline (December 2006), which takes natural gas along the same route as the previously mentioned pipeline but ends up at Erzurum in Turkey instead, where it is joined by the Tabriz-Ankara pipeline coming from the gas fields of Iran (yes, Iran). BP is also an important shareholder of the South Caucasus pipeline (25.5%). The geo-strategic aims of these two projects were to diversify the energy supplies and lessen Europe's dependence on Russian oil and gas. 

Interestingly, Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortakl??? (TPAO), the national oil and gas company of Turkey, is also a partner of BP in both of these projects (6.53% & 9% respectively). Furthermore, the gas pipeline was also built by Turkish state-owned company BOTA? on behalf of the BP led consortium. BOTA? and Greek gas company DEPA have built an extension of the Turkish pipeline in order to reach continental Europe (November 2007). This last June, BOTA?, DEPA and Italy’s Edison SpA signed a memorandum of understanding for the extension of the pipeline into southern Italy. There is no doubt that these energy deals have reinforced Turkey's position as a strategic ally of the West, contrary to what Mr. Frum or other noecons might think.

More surprisingly, and this is where it gets almost unbelievable, both BP and TPAO have a third business partner not only in the South Caucasus pipeline project but also in the Shah Deniz gas fields of Azerbaijan where the gas is actually pumped out and where BP acts as the operator of the project. This third partner is no other than Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO), registered in the Jersey Channel Islands (UK), and a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company. NICO owns 10% of the pipeline project and 10% of the gas fields project. The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified NICO as an entity owned or controlled by the Government of Iran, and as such prohibits most transactions with it.

I'm sorry to say it that way but with regards to the national and financial interests of both the UK and Turkey I don't believe that Israel figures much in the balance. Mr. Frum and his former neocon friends can huff and puff all they want but Israel doesn't factor in here. Prime Minister Cameron's comments in regards to the Flotilla Incident and the Siege of Gaza were obviously not meant to please Israel firsters but rather to demonstrate clearly the strategic significance of the partnership of BP (a British company) and Turkish state-owned companies in the area of energy development. And that's part and parcel of the new Turkey.