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 toTurkey seem to miss the fact Turkey is emerging as the major energybroker 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 theMediterranean Turkish sea port of Ceyhan. The pipeline, which came intofull operation in May 2006, has for its largest shareholder a companycalled BP (30.1%). Then there is the South Caucasus pipeline (December2006), which takes natural gas along the same route as the previouslymentioned pipeline but ends up at Erzurum in Turkey instead, where it isjoined by the Tabriz-Ankara pipeline coming from the gas fields of Iran(yes, Iran). BP is also an important shareholder of the South Caucasuspipeline (25.5%). The geo-strategic aims of these two projects were todiversify the energy supplies and lessen Europe's dependence on Russianoil and gas. 

Interestingly, Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı (TPAO), the nationaloil and gas company of Turkey, is also a partner of BP in both of theseprojects (6.53% & 9% respectively). Furthermore, the gas pipeline wasalso built by Turkish state-owned company BOTAŞ on behalf of the BP ledconsortium. BOTAŞ and Greek gas company DEPA have built an extension ofthe Turkish pipeline in order to reach continental Europe (November2007). This last June, BOTAŞ, DEPA and Italy’s Edison SpA signed amemorandum of understanding for the extension of the pipeline intosouthern Italy. There is no doubt that these energy deals have reinforcedTurkey'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, bothBP and TPAO have a third business partner not only in the South Caucasuspipeline project but also in the Shah Deniz gas fields of Azerbaijanwhere the gas is actually pumped out and where BP acts as the operatorof the project. This third partner is no other than Naftiran IntertradeCompany (NICO), registered in the Jersey Channel Islands (UK), and asubsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company. NICO owns 10% of thepipeline project and 10% of the gas fields project. The U.S. Departmentof the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identifiedNICO as an entity owned or controlled by the Government of Iran, and assuch prohibits most transactions with it.

I'm sorry to say it that way but with regards to the national andfinancial interests of both the UK and Turkey I don't believe thatIsrael figures much in the balance. Mr. Frum and his former neoconfriends can huff and puff all they want but Israel doesn't factor inhere. Prime Minister Cameron's comments in regards to the FlotillaIncident and the Siege of Gaza were obviously not meant to please Israelfirsters but rather to demonstrate clearly the strategic significance ofthe partnership of BP (a British company) and Turkish state-ownedcompanies in the area of energy development. And that's part and parcelof the new Turkey.