At least three explosions severed Turkish pipelines carrying natural gas from Iran and Azerbaijan, media reported on Friday (19 October). Turkey is seen as a key transit country for supplying Europe.
Several pipeline projects are competing with one another to bring to life the southern gas corridor – a vague blueprint to supply Europe with gas from the Caspian and the Middle East.
Initially the EU’s flagship project was Nabucco, designed to supply to Europe from the Caucasus and the Middle East to a gas hub in Austria, via Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.
The construction of Nabucco was expected to start in 2013 and the first gas is expected to flow in 2017. As planned, the pipeline would carry 31 billions of cubic metres per year (bcm/y) of gas.
But now only three smaller pipeline projects appear to be in competition to bring the gas from the Turkish-EU border deeper into the European Union:
- Nabucco West: via Bulgaria and Romania to Austria
- South East Europe Pipeline (SEEP): via Bulgaria and Romania to Hungary
- Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP): via Greece to Italy
A remote-control roadside bomb ripped through a military vehicle today (19 October) near Agri, an eastern province of Turkey, according to reports in the Turkish press.
Agri Governor Mehmet Tekinarslan described it as a terrorist attack targeted at the gas pipeline. The governor said that 28 soldiers were wounded, one seriously.
The incident is the latest in a series of explosions that hit gas pipelines in Turkey this month. On 8 October, Turkish authorities blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatist group for a blast on a pipeline in Turkey's southeast that halted the Iranian gas flow to the region.
That happened four days after an unexplained explosion on another pipeline halted the flow of Azerbaijani natural gas to Turkey via the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline.
Gazpom announced in a press release that following the explosion near Agri, natural gas deliveries from Iran to Turkey have been completely halted.
“Consequently, Turkish company BOTAŞ requested to increase daily shipment of Russian natural gas along the Blue Stream route up to 48 million cubic metres. Gazprom Export upped the deliveries in accordance with this application. Previous daily supplies totalled 32 mcm,” Gazprom stated.
It remains unknown how long the repair works will last, the statement said.