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. 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’ 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.