Karabakh Conflict Threatening NATO Energy Security

Karabakh Conflict Threatening NATO Energy SecurityKarabakh Conflict Threatening NATO Energy Security

The periodic escalation of violence in and around the separatist Azerbaijani territory of Karabakh routinely raises concerns about the conflict’s threat to regional energy security and pipeline infrastructure.

The intense fighting between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan along the Line of Contact last month—often referred to as the “Four-Day War” (April 2–5)—had serious humanitarian repercussions. The violence also notably underscored the vulnerability of regional energy infrastructure located on Europe’s and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s strategic southeastern flank—namely, the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipelines, the South Caucasus Natural Gas Pipeline, and nearby oil and gas terminals, Oil Price reported.

Last month, the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic warned that it was prepared to carry out missile strikes against Azerbaijan’s oil facilities. This is while Armenia has reportedly held military exercises in Karabakh to simulate possible attacks and airstrike scenarios on Azerbaijan’s oil and gas infrastructure.

The physical security of South Caucasus’ strategic energy infrastructure, as well as the continued secure transport of oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, is of growing importance to the energy security of NATO’s European allies.

Any attack or security threat to regional energy fields, terminals, pipelines, storage sites and other transportation facilities would undermine the oil and gas flow from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to European and global markets.

A similar case already occurred during the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war, when Russian military jets dropped bombs near the BTC and Baku-Supsa oil pipelines, resulting in the temporary suspension of Azerbaijani oil exports through Georgia.

The possible eruption of full-scale war between Azerbaijan and Armenia would have a profoundly negative effect on the energy infrastructure of the entire region, especially on that of Azerbaijan. And such a scenario would have catastrophic effects on foreign investments in the energy sector and for ongoing trans-regional energy projects, such as the Southern Gas Corridor.