This semester I attended a couple of lectures given by Dr. Andrei Vavilov, an expert in the Russian natural gas industry. A major theme has been that due to contracting problems, a classic hold-up scenario, and the inability of politicians to negotiate, a bunch of unnecessary natural gas pipelines are being built. Mainly these pipelines are designed to put as few national borders as possible between Russian natural gas fields and the lucrative Western European market. Natural gas pipelines cost about 8 billion dollars per 1000 km. This is a huge waste of resources.
There are three current projects that fit this bill:
The Nord-Stream project is set to be completed in 2012, and the South Stream project by 2015. The Nabucco Pipeline may or may not be built, but if it goes ahead it is planned to be operational by 2017.
Taking the upper bounds on the prices, we get 70 billion dollars. To put that in perspective, if it was divided evenly among all American, it would be 233 dollars a head. 70 billion dollars is enough to pay for a year of the war in Afghanistan.
The building of these excess pipelines is deadweight loss, and reflects pretty poorly on the governments involved in the negotiations. It is surprising more people haven't heard about this.