Oil, gas, cotton, gold and metals have become the main hard currency earners in independent Central Asia. In particular, three countries, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have formed their development paths around a combination of these resources, especially oil and gas. This chapter will look in detail at qualitative differences in the oil and gas industry across the region. How did post-Soviet countries decide to manage their hydrocarbon resources? How did they cope with Russian influence in the region’s Soviet-era distribution network? Did the emergence of China as a regional actor influence their resource governance?
The first section of the chapter lays out the importance of oil and gas in the political economy of these countries and the second section focuses on Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as the biggest energy exporters. In each case, the peculiar historical path that these countries picked after independence will be expounded.
The third section of the chapter touches upon the qualitative difference between hegemonies and multivectorism, using the example of export pipelines to single out the importance of a Gramscian approach.
This work is influenced by Gramscian concepts such as hegemony and historical bloc, which will be used to build a bridge between International Political Economy (IPE) and energy security studies. By looking at hegemony as a process, which puts in a dialectic relationship different countries as well as transnational companies (TNCs) and state-owned enterprises, this work seeks to outline the nodes at which a country’s resource governance paradigm shifts: in particular, what causes concentration in the hands of the state to become preferable to an open market economy and vice versa.