It is a direct consequence of business that we, the citizens of any country, can wear clothes, manufactured by a textile mill and stitched by a tailor; or put food, grown by a farmer and bought from the market, on a table built by a carpenter and sold to us in a shop; or drive around in a car, trained first to do so by a qualified instructor, and the car bought from a manufacturer. If it weren’t for the fact that we, the consumers, have to provide some form of monetary consideration to the businesses from which we buy, businessmen would be seen as saints, and businesses as charities.
It is, therefore, not surprising to know that most businessmen have a morality far different from that of an ordinary man’s. To the businessman, money is not the goal of his efforts; providing basic human necessities is. It is this morality that underscores the pursuits of Carlos Alberto Bulgheroni.
Born Argentinean to a Spanish mother and an Italian father, Bulgheroni was a man destined to a lifelong pursuit of business. Although qualified as a lawyer, Bulgheroni is honest in his admission that his educational choice was a simple means to a career in the family business, the Bridas Corporation. As most fathers do, Bulgheroni’s instilled within him a hard practical sensibility of “You do what you have to do.” His mother, conversely, taught him to always keep an open mind to other ways of thinking. Later on, his bout with cancer at the age of 27 led him to face danger and the real possibility of death with a stoic calm. All these lessons played no small part in leading the Bridas Corporation eastwards to Turkmenistan, Afganistan and Pakistan during these countries most tumultuous times. It was, in fact, the first multinational to come up with the idea of taking oil from Turkmenistan and transporting it to a warm weather port in Pakistan by way of Afghanistan. It is the potential revival of the TAP pipeline that has brought Bulgheroni back.
Even though many environmentalists and geologists have raised alarms about the lack of energy this world possesses, Bulgheroni is convinced that the world will have a rich supply of hydrocarbons for another two hundred years. As such, a main focus of the oil and gas business has become the Central Asian Republics. Bridas, however, unlike most of its competitors, was one of the first multinational companies to invest heavily in Turkmenistan. In 1992 and 1993, Bridas was awarded a gas exploration concession for the Yashlar block in eastern Turkmenistan.
A year later it was given a very lucrative 75% share in the Keimar oil and gas block. However, that’s when things became sticky. One cannot over emphasize the interest shown by countries for tapping the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia. Zbigniew Brezinski describes this region in his book, ‘The Grand Chessboard – American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives’ as “the center of world power.” “Capturing the region’s oil wealth and carving out territory in order to build a network of transit routes was a primary objective of U.S. military interventions throughout the 1990s in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Caspian Sea.” The Turkmenistan government, in fact, hired Alexander Haig as their lobbyist for bringing in American investment and for softening the U.S.’s position on transporting oil and gas through Iran. At the time a Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey pipeline was being considered. Russia, in its part, wanted to stake claim to the revenues by channelling all oil and gas shipments through Russia. It was then that Bridas came up with a third alternative; to transport gas through Afghanistan and Pakistan. It would become one of the most sought after and infamous projects in the world.
Carlos Alberto Bulgheroni
Born in Rufino, Santa Fé in 1945 -2016
Law Degree from University of Buenos Aires
Italian and Argentine Nationality
Actual residence in Madrid, Spain
Former President of Bridas Corp.
Company leader in the energy sector, specializing in all oil and gas related activities.
Former President of EDIC
Energy Developments and Investments Corporation, a company specialized in the exploration and production of oil and gas in the North African, Russian, Central Asian, Middle and Far Eastern markets.
– CARI – Argentine Council for International Relations – ex Member
– BOLSA DE COMERCIO DE BUENOS AIRES – Member
– CSIS – Washington – ex Member of the International Council and Senior Adviser of the Human Space Exploration Initiative
– FIEL – Foundation for Latin American Economic Research – ex Member
– FUNDACION MEDITERRANEA – ex Member
– FUNDACION POLICIA FEDERAL ARGENTINA – Founder and ex Secretary
– FUNDACION TEATRO COLON – Founder and ex Member
– THE KENNEDY CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS – Ex Co Chairman of the International Committee and actual member
– THE PERES CENTER FOR PEACE – ex Member
– U.S. & ARGENTINE CAUCUS – Founder and ex Partner
– ARGENTINE RUSSIAN BUSINESS COUNCIL – ex Member
Nominated by the Italian President as “Grand Officer of the Italian Republic”
Has Held the Following Positions
– ARGENTINE RUSSIAN BUSINESS COUNCIL – ex President
– WTO – Geneva – Former member of the Business Advisory Board
– MEBF – Mercosur European Business Forum – Former President and Representative for Mercosur 1990-2002
– ICC – Paris – ex Member of the Executive Board
Unocal, an American oil and gas company, originally brought in by Bridas to participate in a consortium to build the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan pipeline decided to be far more selfish in their goals. They hired Zalmay Khalilzad and Hamid Karzai to help them in getting the Afghan portion of the project for themselves. However, in 1996, Bridas signed agreements with the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, thereby coming in first. This did not stop Unocal. The American oil giant kept trying to woo the Taliban government through monetary incentives. According to Ahmed Rashid, “Unocal’s influence with the Taliban was that their project carried the possibility of U.S. recognition.” In fact, in 1997 Unocal invited the Taliban to visit their offices in Houston, Texas. Unfortunately, for both Bridas and Unocal, the Taliban, in Bulgeroni’s words, became “unpredictable” and soon it was clear that the U.S. would never recognize the Taliban. In Unocal’s words, written to the U.S. State Department, “…the gas pipeline would not proceed until an internationally recognized government was in place in Afghanistan.” The possible political outcomes of such thinking, I will leave to the fertile minds of conspiracy buffs.
Ever since President Woodrow Wilson, countries have judged others on human criteria. Although nations have very few human characteristics other than an insatiable greed to increase their realms of economic and political influence, issues of human rights, democracy and rule of law are considered when deciding which country to form alliances with. During the time of the Taliban led Afghanistan, no country could have been accused more of doing harm to its womenfolk, in perpetrating an extremist interpretation of Islam and giving refuge to terrorists. Those doing business with the Taliban have sometimes been accused of supporting their draconian policies. Bulgheroni, himself, admits that he has faced such accusations. However, as a businessman, his morality dictates that what is far more important than political and religious ideologies is the empowerment of people through the provision of basic necessities, employment, and personal and national income generation. Without these, he believes, societies, through frustration and disappointment, descend into violence.
For now, Bridas’s enthusiasm to restart the project, as stated by it in 2006, and Bulgheroni’s visit to Pakistan in 2009 can be seen as a welcome initiative by the Argentines. Pakistan’s own attempts at building the trade corridor through it and northwards to Central Asia would greatly benefit. One must also give praise where praise is due for if it weren’t for the tireless efforts of the Argentine Ambassador, H.E. Rodolfo Martin Saravia, Bridas would not have the platform from which to re-enter Pakistan. It is through these same efforts that Argentine companies in the pharmaceutical and CNG industries have come to Pakistan. And hopefully more will follow.
As for Pakistan, the opportunities presented by Bulgheroni and his ‘family business’ are far too important to lose. It is, therefore, time that Pakistan actively take the initiative to help companies like Bridas to invest in their region. To do so requires that we maintain consistent policies over long periods of time. And to the businessman from Argentina, what is of vital importance is that Pakistan have “rule of law and enforceability.” Now, isn’t that what we all need?
- Bridas Corporation is an international oil and gas holding company engaged in four principal areas of operations:
- The exploration and development of oil and gas reserves and the production of oil and gas;
- The marketing and transportation of oil, gas and oil products;
- The gathering, treatment, processing and distribution of gas and power generation;
- Drilling and well services.
Bridas’ strategy is oriented towards profitable growth, optimizing exploitation of its resources and maintaining high standards in the preservation of the environment.
While committed to growth, Bridas also reaffirms its commitment to: enhance its hydrocarbon operations; protect the safety of all workers directly or indirectly associated with its business and all those living in the communities in the neighborhood of its operations; safeguard the environment; and contribute to sustainable development by making increasingly accessible the cleanest source of thermal energy available to date, that is natural gas.
Bridas’ mission is to continue to deliver value to its shareholders by increasing both oil and gas production over the next five years and further developing its strong and diversified hydrocarbon resource base, while upholding the highest safety standards, utilizing the latest technology and emphasizing high expectations for performance and integrity.
A strategic decision led us to promote energy integration in the Southern Cone of Latin America with focus on the development of natural gas, a major energy alternative to support regional growth in the 21st century. It is committed to safely and efficiently continue to develop, process, transport, distribute and export natural gas with the objective of improving Southern Cone people’s quality of life. In addition to the substantial reserves in oil and natural gas in the Southern Cone of Latin America, Bridas has activities in Central Asia, Middle East and Europe, and is constantly analyzing new business opportunities in other countries.
Bridas’ performance relies on its solid management team and on the efficiency, creativity and expertise of its staff, backed by a remarkable reputation in community, business and technological matters. A strategic decision led Bridas to promote energy integration in the Southern Cone with focus on the development of natural gas. In addition to its operations in Argentina, Bridas has been active in the international market since 1978. Bridas Corporation has focused in the South America Southern Cone and Central Asia. Its activities includes four principal areas of operations.
In 1997, Bridas was one of two companies negotiating with the Taliban to build the Trans-Afghanistan Gas Pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. Another company was Unocal. Although the agreement with Unocal-led Corporation CentGas was reached, the deal later failed. The failure was believed to be because the deal was going to be struck with Bridas. The pipeline was not built, due to instability in Afghanistan an inability of CentGas and the Taliban to come to a mutually acceptable economic understanding although rumours about a deal with Bridas were widespread.In 2006, Bridas indicated interest to continue with Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project.
Turkmenistan – The Bridas Joint Venture
Bridas Corp. of Argentina was the first foreign company to produce oil from two joint ventures: a Joint venture with TurkmenGeologia having developed the Yashlar/Lolotan areas of the Amu Darya basin in eastern Turkmenistan, where the Argentinian company has invested over $200m and found the huge Yashlar gas field; and a Joint venture with TurkmenNeft having developed the Keimir, Ekpatlaukh, Chikishlyar and Kotur Tepe oilfields. Bridas has invested another $220m in this venture.
The latter Joint venture, for the Keimir block, is located on the south-western coast of the Caspian near the border with Iran, and the fields are rich in gas as well. Its original partner was the state-owned BalkanNefteKhimProm, which is not part of TurkmenNeft. The Joint venture’s production in mid-1995 averaged between 16,000-22,000 b/d of light and sweet oil, with the export crude called Okarem. Bridas then said the Keimir fields’ production capacity could be boosted to 120,000 b/d within three to four years.
However, there is no production now as Bridas and the government have been locked in a dispute since November 1995, when Ashgabat suspended the company’s right to export its output. After two rounds of inconclusive negotiations with the government, the Argentinian company resorted to arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. In January 1997, the Paris chamber ordered Ashgabat to lift its ban. President Niyazov ignored the order. He was angered by Bridas’ action and swore he would never do business with a company which humiliated his country.
The government continued to accuse Bridas of having taken advantage of its lack of experience and exacted “unfair terms” in its PSAs. Bridas said the government was responsible for its signatures, insisting that any breach of the agreements must be compensated for.
Bridas is owned by the influential Bulgheroni family of Argentina. The company took the Keimir block in Turkmenistan’s first tender in 1991. In the second tender, in 1992, it took the Yashlar/Lolotan block in the east. In Keimir the company’s chairman, Dr. Carlos Bulgheroni, has built one of the most lavish compounds in the FSU, with green lawns and a swimming pool. His waiters have fed guests there with caviar and Argentinian wine.
In March 1995, Bridas signed an initial accord with LUKoil and the Russian company’s Italian partner Agip to develop the Keimir fields on a large scale and to secure an export outlet for 120,000 b/d. This was to be using Russia’s pipelines and a shipping venture across the northern Caspian.
When the government suspended Bridas’ export licence, in November 1995, it said had made a mistake in signing the deals in 1991/92 and that the E&P terms granted to the company were much too favourable. The then oil and gas minister Amangeldy Esenov explained in late 1995: “When the contract (PSA) was signed, it was not profitable for both sides… If I had been able to foresee the future three years ago, I would have signed a different contract, a civilised contract that would be profitable for both”. He said it was to persuade Bulgheroni to help correct Ashgabat’s mistake that Esenov blocked Bridas’ exports. Bulgheroni said in early 1996: “If you don’t have the rule of law, how can we work here?”
Bridas was planning to develop Yashlar, a super-giant which it found in 1995, which contains 27 TCF of gas and 165m barrels of condensates in the Amu Darya basin. Its development could cost $1.5 bn. Bridas has promoted a pipeline, to cost another $1.5 bn, for the gas to be pumped to Pakistan through Afghanistan. This rivalled Unocal’s project to build two parallel pipelines, for oil and gas, to Pakistan via Afghanistan.
The conflict with Bridas escalated in early 1998, a TurkmenNeft took over the Kotur Tepe oilfield which was part of the Keimir JV, under a PSA given exclusively to the state company. In mid-1998, TurkmenNeft signed an agreement with Mobil and Monument (now Lasmo) for them to provide the state firm with technical help to rehabilitate the developed but mature reservoirs of Kotur Tepe and Barsa-Gelmes. But ExxonMobil abandoned its operations and left Turkmenistan earlier this year (see OMT).
Bridas Corp. is registered in the Virgin Islands. In Argentina, where it grew from being a drilling contractor through favoured deals with the former Argentine state oil company YPF, it produces gas and oil. After the privatisation of Argentina’s oil and gas sectors, Bridas moved into international business and Turkmenistan was its main investment. In 1992, Dr. Bulgheroni became close to President Niyazov and other Turkmen leaders. In promoting the gas pipeline to Pakistan, he braved missiles and murderous Afghan gangs. He trekked across the mountains of Afghanistan to sell his plan to local warlords. Later he threatened to sue both Unocal and the Turkmen government for promoting a rival gas pipeline.
Carlos A. Bulgheroni was appointed to our board of directors on August 14, 2006. Mr. Bulgheroni has served as the Chairman and President of Bridas Corporation, an international oil and gas holding company, since 1993. He has been a member of the Management Committee of Pan American Energy LLC since November 1997. He is also a member of the International Council of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS-Washington), of the International Committee of The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and of the Executive Board of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-Paris). Mr. Bulgheroni is a graduate of the University of Buenos Aires Law School.