As the Soviet Union began to show signs of imminent collapse, the oil industry in Central Asia was jeopardized as the existing pipelines from the oil producing regions around the Caspian Sea were controlled mostly by Russia. The Central Asian Republics would be left with very little oil transportation infrastructure of their own, as they were landlocked and relied on pipelines to transport oil to markets outside of their locality, such as China, whose oil demands were increasing rapidly. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, western oil companies were keen to capitalize on Central Asia, as its oil fields produce light, low sulfur oil, which provides better returns throughout the refining process. When using Russian pipelines to export the oil, the somewhat outdated Russian practice of measuring oil by weight meant that this particular composition of oil would be sold for significantly lower than its market value, so plans for new pipelines across the region were developed.
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