The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe

Thursday, April 9, 2020 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Gas pipeline laid through a field.

CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge Street, Room K354

Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet empire, the West faces a new era of East-West tensions. Any vision of a modern Russia integrated into the world economy and aligned in peaceful partnership with a reunited Europe has abruptly vanished. Two opposing narratives vie to explain the strategic future of Europe, one geopolitical and one economic, and both center on the same resource: natural gas. In The Bridge, Thane Gustafson, an expert on Russian oil and gas, argues that the political rivalries that capture the lions share of media attention must be viewed alongside multiple business interests and differences in economic ideologies. With a dense network of pipelines linking Europe and Russia, natural gas serves as a bridge that unites the region through common interests. Tracking the economic and political role of natural gas through several countries Russia and Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. The Bridge details both its history and its likely future. As Gustafson suggests, there are reasons for optimism, but whether the gas bridge can ultimately survive mounting geopolitical tensions and environmental challenges remains to be seen.

Thane Gustafson, Professor of Government at Georgetown University, is a widely recognized authority on Eurasia who has spent 40 years studying and traveling in Russia, Ukraine, and the  rest of the Former Soviet Union. Dr. Gustafson’s latest book is The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe, which appeared in January 2020, with Harvard University Press. His previous book, Wheel of Fortune: the Battle for Oil and Power in Russia (Harvard University Press, October 2012), was described by Foreign Affairs as “a superb book… the single most revealing work on Russian politics and economics published in the last several years.” Formerly a professor at Harvard University and a political analyst at the Rand Corporation, Dr. Gustafson holds a BS from the University of Illinois in political science and chemistry, and a PhD in government from Harvard University.

Simon Blakey is a leading authority on the European energy industry. Mr. Blakey was the founder of the European natural gas and power research practices at CERA (Cambridge Energy Research Associates). His research and consulting assignments covered a broad range of strategic issues for European companies active in natural gas.


Thane Gustafson, Professor of Government, Georgetown University
Simon Blakey, Energy Consultant, SAB Global Energy
Moderator: Aurélie Bros, Senior Fellow, Energy Project, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies; Lecturer on Government, Harvard University

Sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

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