Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Terrorists Attack Main Turkey-Iran Gas Pipeline

Gas deliveries from Russia & Azerbaijan, and to Greece & Europe are not affected.


Terrorists have stopped the flow of natural gas between Turkey and Iran, at least temporarily. The pipeline which carried the gas was struck by an explosion overnight Monday (July 27) in the eastern Turkish province of Agri, according to Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. 

“The explosion caused a fire, but we managed to put it out quickly,” Yildiz told the state-run news agency Anatolia, adding the line was expected to be back in service within three days.

Terrorists sabotaged the pipeline about nine and a half miles (15 kilometers) inside the Turkish border, he added.  Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, it is believed the outlawed (PKK) Kurdistan Workers’ Party terror group was responsible. The separatist Kurdish group often targeted the pipeline in the years before the 2013 cease-fire was established.

Iran holds the largest proven gas reserves in the world – about 18.2 percent of the world total – and the fourth largest proven oil reserves – about 9.3 percent – after Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Canada.  However, due to the international sanctions, Iranian oil production declined in 2013.

Turkey, a Rising Star in Energy Delivery
Despite the security risks, a U.S. energy agency has named Turkey as the region’s newest rising star in the world of natural gas.

Turkey is “well placed and an increasingly significant hub for oil and natural gas transit from the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia to Europe and th Atlantic,” according to the country analysis published this month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

Turkey’s straits, the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, are considered the gateways for transit of Russian and Caspian crude oil to international markets.

The two waterways are the sixth largest transit way in the world, seeing some 2.9 million barrels of crude per day passing through in 2013, the EIA reported last November in its World Oil Transit Chokepoints report.

Turkey currently has two oil pipelines and one for natural gas.

Turkey’s Iraqi Oil Connection
One oil pipeline runs from Iraq, with two branches: one from the oil-rich Kirkuk province, and the other from the Taq Taq field near Irbil. Both are in northern Iraq. 

The former, running 620 miles (990 kilometers) from Kirkuk, has a capacity to carry 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil, but is seldom used due to the presence of Da’esh (ISIS) in the area. 

The latter branch, running 250 miles (400 kilometers) from Taq Taq near Irbil, has a capacity of 600,000 barrels per day of crude oil. It is this line that has been used most often, with about 550,000 barrels per day on average being sent to Ceyhan in southern Turkey in May of this year. 

Turkey’s Oil From Azerbaijan & Russia
The (second) Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which began operating in 2006, runs 1,100 miles (1,760 kilometers) from Azerbaijan and has the capacity to carry 1.2 million barrels per day of crude oil.

The two pipelines merge near the Turkish border with Iraq. There the crude oil is piped – or sometimes trucked – to the port at Ceyhan in the south, where it is then shipped to international markets.

In 2014, more than 130,000 barrels per day of Iraqi crude oil and more than 650,000 barrels per day of Caspian crude oil exports were handled at Ceyhan – most of it destined for Europe, according to the EIA.

A third “South Caucuses Pipeline” – the Baku-Tibilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline (BTE) – carries 6.6 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year from Azerbaijan to Turkey. 

Ankara also imports a total of 16 bcm of gas annually from Russia via the Blue Stream pipeline under the waters of the Black Sea, and 14 bcm of gas through the West Line pipeline.

Iran Also Sending Gas to Turkey  
In addition, the Iranian Tabriz-Ankara pipeline – which runs 1,601 miles (2,577 kilometers) from Tabriz in northwest Iran to Ankara – also provides 10 bcm of gas per year to Turkey, according to the Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Corporation, BOTAS.

However, the Iranian pipeline is periodically shut down due to sabotage by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) separatist terror organization. 

And there is more business to come.

Future Joint Turkey-Russia, Azeri Projects
One project slated for completion by 2018 – the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) – would see 16 bcm of Azeri natural gas being carried through a Turkish pipeline to Greece and into Europe.

Another is the Turkish Stream Project just approved by Russia this week. The Russian Energy Ministry sent a draft intergovernmental agreement on Tuesday (July 28) on the “Turkish stream” project to Ankara, a ministry source told the Russian news agency TASS.  The draft outlines “an intergovernmental agreement on the project’s first line with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters (bcm),” TASS reported. The decision was made at the “head of state” level in both countries and Russia is “ready for a phased implementation of the project,” according to the Russian Energy Ministry source.

If the deal goes through, the Russian gas pipeline will be created instead of the previously planned South Stream gas pipeline project, which is being abandoned by Russia. The new Turkish stream will instead run under the waters of the Black Sea, in a similar route, and allegedly supply gas exclusively for Turkey’s needs. Lines two to four of the Turkish stream are expected to transfer gas to EU countries, via Greece.

Israel, Cyprus Quietly Cut Deal
While the rest of the region is engaged in tying up their loose ends along the northeastern shores of the Mediterranean, Israel and Cyprus have been quietly discussing ways to expand their own cooperation on energy, even as Israel's neighbors do the same.

On Tuesday (July 28) Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades agreed to join forces to tap the natural gas potentials in the sea beds beneath both their nations. Cyprus discovered gas offshore in 2011; Israel has discovered several lucrative natural gas fields off its Mediterranean shore within the past several years as well, including one of the largest global natural gas discoveries in the past decade. 

At present, Israel and Cyprus are mulling a private project to transport electricity to Europe, powered by natural gas, via an east Mediterranean pipeline and the Eurasia interconnector. The two countries are also looking at ways to tighten security cooperation, since without security there can be no peace.

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