In this examine Russia crude oil and natural gas based on geopolitics. Russian oil and natural gas politics divided to two part; cold war period and after the demise of  the Soviet Union. Because Russian economy has deteriorated and Russians has lost the heavy influence that they possess in both global and regional affairs. However it did not last long. Rich hydrocarbon resources that Russia acquires and the effect of geopolitics have tremendously contributed to the revival of Russia after a period of stagnation.

There are four title in this study. First part is exploitation of energy geopolitics. Second part is Russia as a key energy producer. Next part is Russia as a key energy pipeline state. Last part is Russia as a major strategic player in global energy issues.


States interact with their environment for the improvement of the interests of their citizens. It calls organic theory. Geographical factors and capabilities take into consideration in analysis of foreign policy. Like that, location of energy sources, the transportation routes and facilities and the impacts of these issues upon the foreign policies of the relevant states are taken into careful consideration within the analysis of energy geopolitics.

When we look this perspective Russia and its capacity have unique influence both downstream and upstream activities and Russia also integrated its energy capacity in the energy sector. However geopolitics of energy of Russia have significant position both global and regional scale.

On the other hand there are analysis of the geopolitical problems. Because there are two important player in the energy sector importer and exporter. While energy exporter try to maximize revenues for their self budgets, energy importers are looking for continuous flow of energy for their economies and industries. Whit these policies can sometimes take place unpredictable situations. In different times, like Cold War period, Soviet Union was need one another and work together common interests for security of supply and demand.


Russia is a critical state. Because it has a major crude oil and natural gas reserves. Russia, currently, is the second largest oil producer and exporter of crude oil after Saudi Arabia in the world. Furthermore, Russia is the leading natural gas producer and exporter in the world.

All states want different energy sources for their industry. Therefore, diversification of both energy sources and suppliers are prioritized by policy makers. In this context, Russia can be alternative to oil supplies instead of Middle East sources. Because it is an unstable region and importer states want stability and security for reserves. In addition to that, rising ant western ideas in the region is responsible from another dimension of major crude oil consumers’ efforts of finding reliable long term suppliers of crude oil. However states tents to diversify the types of energy sources and there is a increasing demand to natural gas. Because it is environmentally friendly. This tendency of natural gas gives a significant advantage to Russia with oil. Because Russia also has huge amount of natural gas, it hold 30.7% of total natural gas reserves of the world. In addition Russia is the primary supplier of natural gas to Europe and Turkey. It is with no doubt that this gives a strong hand to Russia in shaping and determining global politics of natural gas.

Russian natural gas and oil are not just important for importer states. It erns huge money. Revenues that have been acquired from the trade of natural gas and crude oil have become a key source of income for Russian economy. When we look previous years, we can see importance revenues of natural gas and oil. After the demise of Soviet Union, oil production dropped, its economy start to deteriorate. Towards the end of the 1990s oil production increased and produced 323.2 million tones.

The presence of Russian oil firms in various production sharing agreements in different places of the world also contributes heavily to the strength of the oil industry. Russian firms have been very influential and successful in taking place in the upstream activities of Central Asian states. This is very important power for Russia. Because although Russia is not a member of OPEC, it can influence and play critical rol in the energy market. On the other hand oil earns are not only income for Russian budget and these gives a strong hand.


Pipelines have economical and political importance. If consuming areas of oil and natural gas are far from production centers, consumers necessary to transportation. Thare are different type of transportation as pipelines, tankers and barges, railways and road truck tank cars. Geographies and political environments determine to use these type of transportation mode.

Pipelines are also important and has big influence on economy. Its diameter necessary for great capacity of the pipeline. However fixed costs and variable costs of the pipeline should be well calculated for a feasible operation. In addition pipeline should operat full capacity for the productive activities of the pipeline.

With the construction of pipeline, states connected with each other and it is not redirect. Pipelines create cobweb of relations among the producers, consumers and the transit states. For these reasons, pipeline system effects political and economical relations among them.

Otherwise, pipelines is not possible to construct within the boundaries of a single state. Pipelines may have to travel through the boundaries of more than one state. Transboundary pipelines are the pipelines that pass through the territories of two or more countries. However there is difficulty of the coordination of the activities. Because all states look out for their own interest.

When we look with this context, we can see Russian cobweb of pipelines. Russian pipeline systems built during the Soviet Union for domestic needs. Therefore, the hydrocarbon resources of even the Central Asian region were transported through the pipelines passing through Russian areas. There are two lines with Kazakhstan; Caspian Pipeline Consortium and Atyrau-Samara Pipeline. However there is a road which is vital importance for Azerbaijan before the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

In addition to these pipeline Russia gives natural gas to Europe and Turkey via pipelines. There are two main routes to reaches to Europe; Northern pipeline and southern pipeline routes. It is with no doubt that Russia has an extensive and efficient network of crude oil pipelines. On the other hand Russia has attempts to construct new Networks; Baltic Pipeline System, Kharyaga-Indiga Pipeline and Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean Pipeline. More pipeline mean more involvement and more effectiveness for Russia in the energy issues.


There is a close connection between national security and energy. Securing energy supply is important for sustainable development of country. When we look this context, we can see energy policy which play a crucial role specifically security of energy supply of European Union. It  is also very important for extarnal trade and foreign relations. Russian energy sources are the top of primary actors for Europe.

On the other hand oil is a political weapon. Natural gas is also as a weapon for Russia. Gas supply and price are used as kind of weapon by Russia in its relation with ex Soviet States, European Union and Turkey. It supplies gas to old Soviet Countries with lower prices but it supplies to European Union and Turkey with high price.


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Mehmet Fatih ARGIN

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