5 Geo. J. Int'l Aff. 27 (2004)
Russian Pipelines - Back to the Future

handle is hein.journals/geojaf5 and id is 35 raw text is: Pipe Dreams?

Russian Pipelines
Back to the Future?
Edward C. Chow

In Soviet mythology, the health of the country's economy,
national power, and influence in the world are directly linked
to the performance of its oil and gas industry. It is ironic,
then, that peak oil and gas production in the U.S.S.R. was
reached in the late 1980s just as economic collapse brought
political disintegration. At the time, the Soviet Union was the
biggest oil producer in the world, generating 12 million bar-
rels per day, II million in Russia alone. Peak consumption at
this time was over 8 million barrels per day in the Soviet Union
and 5 million barrels per day in Russia. Considerable volumes
of crude oil and petroleum products were exported by the
Soviet Union, first to other countries in the Eastern Bloc, and
then approximately 3 million barrels per day to those outside
of the Comecon.' Oil and gas were part of the important
barter trade in the Communist block and provided economic
leverage for Russia in maintaining cohesion of the sphere.
Moreover, they served as principal sources of hard currency
and geopolitical assets in the Soviet Union's relationship with
the outside world.
Given the remote location of many Russian production
fields, pipelines have always played a critical role in transporting
oil and gas. The construction of a vast system of pipelines was
often cited as a crowning achievement of the Soviet oil and gas

Edward C. Chow is
Visiting Scholar at the
Carnegie Endowsment
for International
Peace.

Winter/Spring 2004 [27]

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