1. About the Author. Professor Gulshan Dietl is an ICSSR Senior Fellow affiliated to the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses. She retired as a Professor at the School of International Studies, JNU, where she also served as the Director of the Gulf Studies Programme and the Chairperson of the Centre for West Asian and African Studies. Her other publications include ‘The Dulles Era: America Enters West Asia’ (1985), ‘Through Two Wars and Beyond: A Study of the Gulf Cooperation Council’ (1991), ‘Saudi Arabia: People, Politics and Policies’ (2006), ‘Contemporary Saudi Arabia and the Emerging Indo-Saudi Relations’ (2007), and Democracy and Democratization in the Gulf’ (2010). Her areas of fieldwork and academic research include international relations, domestic developments, foreign policies, and security issues in the Gulf and West Asia with special reference to democratisation, political Islam and energy. Her vast experience in the subject matter suitably qualifies her to write on the complexities of gas pipelines and the world trends, including its implications for India’s energy security.
2. About the Book. The book begins with the statement of problem that the gas pipelines which constitute an important aspect of strategic geography today, deserve a much closer look than what can be comprehended. The share of the natural gas, which is considered as the fuel of the 21st century, is continuously going up in the global energy basket. Presently, more than 90 percent of the gas produced worldwide and three-quarters of gas traded is distributed by pipelines. Incidentally, a gas pipeline is much more prone to political influences compared to oil, since gas is traded bilaterally and multilaterally between nations, and has no equivalent body like OPEC.
3. The book further states that the control or access to the resources of the planet forms an important aspect of geopolitics. The gas pipelines are one of the coveted objects of the geopolitics since their value is three-fold: for the commodity they contain, as the containers of that commodity and as the carriers of the commodity. Therefore, natural gas which flows through international and intercontinental pipelines must necessarily be looked at from a global viewpoint.
4. The discussions in the book primarily revolve around the history and the geographical spread of the gas pipelines around the world. It also brings out the associative geographic relation in the distribution of the gas reserves from Qatar to Iran to Russia and now to the Mediterranean, where recent discovery of gas has been made. The author also highlights the position of the natural gas in comparison to the other two fossil fuels and elaborates upon the existing gas markets, which is now evolving from regional to global, due to technological advancements and market forces. Various stakeholders like the states, energy firms, scientists, engineers, investors, and bankers make up the entire gamut of the gas world. Neither the gas sellers and the gas buyers have been able to come together to form an exporters’ or buyers’ cartel so far. A committed investor, domestic politics in the countries involved, and the relations among the exporting, transiting and the importing countries have a bearing on the successful operation of the pipelines.