bottleneck analysis

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Tag Archives: Azerbaijan

TAPpeti volanti e manganelli

Londra 

Nonostante il blog sia inattivo, mi preme scrivere un attimo di TAP, soprattutto dopo l’indegno articolo de Linkiesta: Tragicomico Sud: la protesta insensata contro il gasdotto in Puglia.

Potrei-ma-non-voglio sottolineare che Francesco Cancellato, autore del pezzo e direttore de Linkiesta, sia quanto di più distante ci sia rispetto a chi in Puglia, sulle sponde dell’Adriatico e alla foce del gasdotto ci vive. Lombardo che scrive che una protesta in Puglia è da “tragicomico sud”, autore di pezzi che ammiccano all’Azerbaigian (anche se solo tangenzialmente) e “vidimatore” di altri pezzi che ammiccano all’Azerbaigian.

Anche io sono fisicamente distante dalla Puglia e dal movimento contro il gasdotto, ma a differenza del Cancellato, qualcosina di energia e di politica internazionale ho studiato.

Qui mi limito ad elencare una lista dei problemi che ho trovato nell’articolo e un’altra lista di problemi proprio del gasdotto.

La Grammatica

Parliamone, di un corridoio lungo 878 chilometri, di cui 550 in Grecia, 215 in Albania, 105 sotto il mare Adriatico e 8 – sottolineiamolo, servirà: otto – in Italia, dalla spiaggia di San Foca sino al confine del comune di Melendugno, in Salento, dove si connetterà con la rete dei gasdotti italiani, che già oggi, con i suoi 13mila chilometri di lunghezza lineare – sottolineiamo pure questo: tredicimila.

Not a sentence. Non ha la caratteristica di una frase, direbbero i miei amici anglofoni (e i miei insegnanti di italiano).

Miracoli dei congressi di partito, oggi pare aver cambiato idea.

Idem come sopra.

Parliamo pure dei 3 milioni di euro che pioveranno nelle casse del comune di Melendugno durante tutti gli anni dei lavori, che si protrarranno per qualche anno.

Qui non è chiaro se i contributi arriveranno ogni anno o se i 3 milioni siano complessivi.

Oltre la grammatica: la supponenza

Per smettere di fare dell’Italia […] la barzelletta d’Europa. E del Mezzogiorno, la tragedia d’Italia.

La maggior parte delle opere incompiute sono (state) finanziate da fondi statali, cioè qualcuno ci mangia. Una sostanziale parte sono anche fondi europei non/mal spesi che sono ritornati a Bruxelles. TAP con questo non c’entra nulla. Se chi protesta viene ascoltato, l’opera si farà e verrà portata a termine.

Nota a margine: oggi il Mezzogiorno è la tragedia d’Italia, ma non mi pare che i giornali italiani abbiano parlato di quei fannulloni mangiapaneatradimento del nordovest quando si protestava la TAV. L’insulto gratuito al Mezzogiorno è forse l’aspetto che più di tutti de-legittima l’articolo di Cancellato.

Il NIMBY

Qualcuno ha già scritto che non si tratta di NIMBY, non è campanilismo di quarta serie, ma attenzione per l’ambiente. Molti pugliesi vogliono che TAP si faccia, solo non dentro una riserva naturale. Altri pugliesi non la vogliono per ragioni di NIMBY, altri per motivi politici, ma perché buttare tutto in un calderone “tragicomico”?

Il contributo di TAP al fabbisogno italiano/europeo

L’Italia consuma tra 65 e 75 miliardi di metri cubi di gas all’anno. Il 90% di questi è importato dall’estero. Il 51% del gas importato viene dalla Russia attraverso gasdotti di epoca sovietica che attraversano (e riforniscono) mezza Europa. L’Europa consumava oltre 500 miliardi di metri cubi di gas all’anno fino al 2013, adesso si attesta a circa 470 miliardi. Di questi l’Europa importa circa il 70%. La Russia, che non ha mai tagliato i rifornimenti (se non all’Ucraina) continua a esportare gas come sempre e si prepara a dover pagare anche qualche penale per aver imposto un prezzo troppo caro un lustro fa. Circa il 40% dei volumi di gas importati in Europa arrivano dalla Russia.

TAP, sponsorizzato in lungo e in largo quale risposta alla dipendenza dalla Russia, porterà sulle spiagge pugliesi ben 10 miliardi di metri cubi di gas. Il 2.5% del consumo annuale europeo. Trattasi di niente. Se fossimo dalla parte dell’ambiente, chiederemmo alla Russia o all’Algeria o alla Norvegia di fornire ulteriori 10 miliardi di metri cubi senza costruire altre infrastrutture. O meglio, se veramente fossimo dalla parte dell’ambiente, troveremmo il modo di consumare il 2.5% in meno di energia.

E poi, Cancellà, risparmiaci i dati sui gasdotti che non subiscono incidenti al di sopra di un certo millimetraggio. Vai a vedere i danni ambientali che incidenti (che ovviamente sballano le statistiche) che coinvolgono il gas naturale hanno causato in tutti gli angoli del pianeta.

La politica internazionale del gasdotto inutile

Il Dipartimento di Stato americano e Bruxelles hanno spinto così tanto per il famigerato Southern Gas Corridor come risposta all’egemonia energetica Russa che si sono trovati con nulla in mano. Il maestoso progetto Nabucco si è trasformato in TANAP (16 miliardi di metri cubi dall’Azerbaigian alla Turchia) + TAP (10 miliardi di metri cubi dalla Turchia all’Italia attraverso la Grecia e l’Albania). Dalle enormi ambizioni alla striminzita realtà.

Trans_Adriatic_Pipeline

Per usare un titolo che quelli in giacca e cravatta responsabili di quest’inutile infrastruttura capiranno: “Ghiaccio su pene

Ma perché si spinge così tanto? Perché conviene. TAP è un consorzio di compagnie registrato a Baar, in Svizzera, dove molte entità offshore fanno il bello e il cattivo tempo senza pubblicamente dichiarare i loro bilanci. Oltre a BP, l’altro principale shareholder è SOCAR, la compagnia di bandiera azera. E c’è pure Snam, quindi ci sono interessi italiani con i quali Cancellato avrebbe dovuto fare i conti: non è “solo un investimento straniero che stiamo rifiutando”.

Ma stiamo in Azerbaigian, lungamente criticato per l’oppressione delle libertà e dei diritti umani, dove giornalisti e attivisti vengono arrestati ogni giorno, letteralmente. Ma vabbè anche Putin è cattivo e quindi non importa la qualità del regime per scegliere i fornitori di gas. Dalla chimica alla metafora, il gas puzza ancora meno del denaro.

I problemi sono di trasparenza: l’Azerbaigian è stato di recente espulso dall’EITI, un’iniziativa transnazionale per assicurare che certi standard amministrativi, ambientali e finanziari siano rispettati dalle compagnie che si occupano dell’estrazione e della vendita di materiali del sottosuolo, tra cui ovviamente il gas. Secondo l’EITI, l’Azerbaigian non rispettava gli standard. La Banca Europea per la Ricostruzione e lo Sviluppo l’anno scorso aveva lanciato un monito: se l’Azerbaigian non migliora gli standard di trasparenza, il prestito promesso per TANAP+TAP potrebbe saltare.

I manganelli

Dopo aver visto la polizia entrare con forza in una biblioteca universitaria a Bologna e dare mazzate qua e là pensavo di aver visto abbastanza per quest’anno. E invece no. Il Comitato NO TAP ha protestato a San Foca nel sito dove TAP sta conducendo i lavori preliminari di scavo e di espianto di ulivi ed è stato caricato più volte, nonostante la protesta fosse incredibilmente pacifica. Un pacifismo quasi esagerato, visto che c’erano ulivi su camion che venivano portati via come automobili su un carroattrezzi.

Ebbene, chi sta difendendo cosa? La polizia (e il governo che ce l’ha mandata) in tenuta anti-sommossa non difende il territorio, ma una compagnia di dubbia trasparenza che vuole costruire un gasdotto di dubbia importanza nel bel mezzo di una riserva naturale.

Chi, a distanza, difende il “progresso” senza capire le ramificazioni politiche, sociali e ambientali è “tragicomico”. Oppure, ma non vorrei essere maligno, è a libro paga di un dittatore.

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Gassy Friends

Tallinn, Estonia

There should be more “energy” in this blog. Here we look at how energy builds feeble friendships and goes against what in International Relations and everyday media seems to be non-controversial.

Iran has very few friends in the international community. US embargo and sanctions have accomplished the slowdown of foreign economic activity in the country. The Seattle Times summarized it all in early 2010:

German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said last week that it will stop doing business in Iran by the middle of 2010. European banks such as Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group have also pulled out of Iran.

In 2010 the Italian ENI was going to be the last big business to leave Iran, only to come back later and announce that their contracts are not covered by the embargo – something that the US has not confirmed. Recently, ENI confirmed the phasing-out of business in Iran once the costs of the current ones are recovered. Given that Iran was one of the gems that ENI was proud of having found during the years of Enrico Mattei, it will be a pretty big loss for the Italian company in general.

This background is just for perspective. Meanwhile, however, non-Western energy is playing a big role in the region, overcoming the obstacles of international sanctions, embargoes and tense relations. With great pride, Armenia and Iran are linked by a gas pipeline since 2008. At the same time, a few kilometers to the East, another gas pipeline feeds the Azeri enclave of Nakhchivan, through swaps between Teheran and Baku. Azerbaijan is not able to send gas via pipeline across Armenia to its citizens in Nakhchivan, so it gets Iranian gas and is paid back with Azeri gas going into the northern and populous regions of Iran. This web of relations could seem silly in a market-driven environment, where the path of pipelines would look more straight and there would be no need to circumvent sensitive regions. But in the heart of the Middle East, reality is more complicated. Turkmenistan swaps its gas as well with Southern Iran, but quantities are not disclosed.

But then you look at Turkey and you scratch your head. Ankara, now under increasing pressures from the population, is the biggest client of Iranian gas (10 bcm). But wait, isn’t Turkey part of NATO? Isn’t NATO… yes, all those consequential questions are legitimate and justified. And just as we care nothing about human rights in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan (just to mention the countries cited here, with which we constantly entertain fruitful relations), the regional gas balance cares little about Western concerns about the Iranian economy. Sanctions and embargoes are precisely intended to weaken the economic stability of an oil and gas potential exporter (although the internal problem in the energy mix are still huge). Therefore, energy trade, or the lack of it, should be the first political tool to use against Iran. By now, the entirety of the West does it. In the region, however, the need for natural gas and of lucrative contracts trumps the political pressures from Washington (and Brussels).

Political friends or enemies, when it comes to business, let’s put a brown bag on our faces and do it. The Western pull out from Iran will certainly contribute to our ignorance of the entire region and foster an antagonistic discourse based on what we think, we hope, we wish was going on “over there”. It’s lucky that there’s people around that write good stuff and open our eyes – in this case on natural gas issues.

Education in Motion

on BART, between SFO and Oakland.

During the past year and a half I’ve been looking for something to do with my life – and not only mine – after graduating from my Master degree in Italy. Willing to keep studying and having enjoyed the US research environment, I decided to try applying – again – for a PhD program here. However, my previous and recent experience with the standard way of assessing applications, left me with a sour taste, again.

During my NEET (not in education, employment, or training) period, I kept enjoying the beauty of studying through libraries, where I entered thanks to my old IDs. It sure feels good to be involved in reading academic texts without the pressure of the exam. I had a project in my sleeve, so I just explored more and more the world of energy and tried to gain knowledge in fields where I lacked one. Freedom to read also gave me the possibility of reading novels and more political texts. Meanwhile, I struggled to earn a minimum for my subsistence, which I barely managed in such a bureaucratized world.

I concentrated my interest in a few projects that allowed me to be eclectic in my future path: the issue of hydrocarbons in the Arctic, the Bulgarian nuclear energy sector, the struggle for power and gas between the Kremlin and Gazprom, and the relevance of energy in diplomatic cooperation in the Caspian region. These might sound boring to many, but to me they spark interest and excitement. They are also deeply rooted in recent history, but they keep their impact in contemporary daily news. As I sit through conferences more and more frequently, I realize that what’s intriguing to some could be irrelevant to others.

Without much illusion of succeeding, thanks to the last drop of self-esteem that was left in me, I found the energy to apply for a very interesting Erasmus Mundus program. Erasmus Mundus was recently set up to link “Erasmus” countries – that have their university systems already interconnected through student, staff, and faculty exchanges – and third countries in the extended neighborhood of Europe, such as the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, etc. The program to which I submitted my application was a new one, coordinated by the University of Glasgow: the International Master in Russian and Central and Eastern European Studies (IMRCEES). The program had already existed for a few years, but this was the first year that the consortium obtained EU funds for it. Glasgow is in fact teamed up with a few other institutions from Poland, Estonia, Hungary, Finland, and Kazakhstan. As soon as I read Kazakhstan I became interested. I laid out my plan and submitted the many documents needed for the contextual application to the program and to the scholarship. A couple of months later, when my expectations for further education had vanished, I received a letter that confirmed my admission to the program. I shook my head: I had to change plans again, but this time it would have been more fun!

So I packed my luggage and tried my best to give and get a Glasgow impression by participating in the annual conference of my future department. I went there during my crazy May, just before my trip back to the US, on which I embarked with a very different motivation compared to the previous ones. This is my last stay in this beautiful and strange country for a while and I am going to use it as a trampoline for my next English-language adventure.

My first stop will be Scotland in September. There I will spend one academic year, trying to learn Russian one more time, carefully engaging with my professors on matters that my experience has told me a lot about, and enjoying the Tropical weather. One of the previous resolutions is clearly false, I’ll let you guess which one while I go to the store to buy a raincoat.

The next summer is going to be full of travels and surprises, as my plan is to go to Azerbaijan for research, but I might have to stop in Estonia first, for additional academic reasons. Anyway it goes, the 2013 summer term will be short, as I will continue my eastbound ride to Kazakhstan, to the former and prospective capital city of Almaty, which is supposed to re-gain its status in 2017. I will spend another academic year there before completing yet another thesis, in order to gain yet another Master degree. What will this lead to? There’s no use in asking, as my future keeps changing weekly.

The Challenge of Languages

Giarre, Italy

This post was clearly inspired by the blog series by Calvin, an American friend of mine, whose first goal is to deconstruct, analyze, and confront challenges for twenty-somethings in particular era we are living these days. His series has been going on for quite some time now (it all started on January 9, 2012) and I’m sure it’s becoming a challenge in itself.

There are many challenges life has put before me in the past years of being a “twenty-something”. Love, houses, exams and graduations, travels, money, friendship, family matters, jobs… the internet! … are only the major among many tough issues I’ve had to cope with. The feeling of being an unsettled individual is one of the most pleasant challenges I face every day.

However, as I approach a new academic experience that will bring me to study in the Post-Soviet area, I have to greet, once again, the challenge of languages. The reason I use the “Post-Soviet” term to refer to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – the countries where I will end up living – is because they share a basic knowledge of the Russian language, which was the Soviet language for nearly sixty years. Stalin’s program of “carpet” Russification in the non-Russian Soviet Republics was felt, of course, as an imposition from abroad. The colonial attitude by Moscow towards its fellow Soviet neighbors during the Cold War helped the development of anti-Russian sentiments in the periphery.  In the last days of 1991, the Soviet Republics all of a sudden realized they were independent. Interestingly, their leadership still remained very “Soviet” inside.

Despite regrets, arguments, clashes with drunken Yeltsin, and confusion over what to do, “former Soviet” leaders transformed themselves into “newly independent” leaders. Most of them were seasoned politicians and they could seize the opportunity given by the political and socio-economic uncertainty to use their chamaleon powers and root their legitimacy in  a nationalistic rhetoric. The countries I will be visiting have been the most stable, US-friendly, and economically growing among the Post-Soviet subjects. The Aliyevs in Azerbaijan have established a quasi-hereditary monarchy (even though they like to be called “President”) and Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan enjoys the same popularity as the Pope among Catholics. In both countries, since the last days of the USSR, the nationalistic trend has gone back to the Turkic tradition. On the one hand, they strive to appear as Western as possible in order to attract foreign investments, but on the other hand, the ancient tradition is recovered by laws and day-to-day social(-ly imposed) changes.

The major reflection of these nationalistic changes is evident in the language. Russian has been downgraded as the “accompanying language” to the official one, which, in many cases is just one variety of the many dialects that the inhabitants spoke before the Tsarist and Soviet invasions. This long historical context serves as a background for my personal challenge with languages for the next few years. Here, you might find handy another set of background information.

I learned to master the Spanish language through my year in Granada as an exchange student. Then I turned my eyes to Russian, which I needed for my studies. However, having lived in Russia for less than a full week, I could never get beyond the elementary-to-intermediate swing. Then came my journey to the United States, where I did take Russian, but I started writing and speaking everything that was processed in my brain through English words. While good on the English-language side, my Russian bent spoiled. What’s to be done now? I will investigate more and more Russian-language documents as my research will still be centered on energy issues in the Caspian, but at the same time I will be living in countries where the usage of Russian is withering away.

My experience in Washington has taught me that Kazakhs are still reliant on Russian, especially for their diplomatic and political speeches and jokes. Yet, again, nationalism is kicking in: one very nice Kazakh diplomat invited me to their embassy on 16th Street, kindly answered to my questions in English, and then showed me the room with the display of traditional garment and weaponry used by Kazakh tribes “back then”, as he uttered walking me to the door. Nevertheless, I think my research experience is going to be smooth if I get back on the books and prepare myself in the Russian language.

The real challenge comes with the language for my daily interactions. I want to be able to live in these countries, even though my experience will surely be restricted to a few months, because of the structure of the program. For this reason, today I browsed a few YouTube videos with introductory courses for the Kazakh language. I will dedicate a few hours per week to a serious study of this language, which draws from many different linguistic roots (Arabic, Mongol, Greek…) and developed from many different dialects, all of which were hybernated during Stalin’s imposition of Russian. I’m sure I won’t be able to deal with the Azeri idiom as well, but my journey to Baku is still uncertain and will surely be shorter than my stay in Almaty.

Yet, as an unsettled being, I maintain a feeling of uncertainty about learning languages I might stop using sooner than expected. The challenge will therefore be to “enjoy it while it lasts”. Like many challenges faced by erratic twenty-somethings.