Turkey has alternative to Samsun-Ceyhan project

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 29 / Trend /

Trend Arabic News Service commentator Aygul Taghiyeva

This week Turkey announced it has ceased working with Italy's Eni Company due to its partnership with Cyprus in the exploration of hydrocarbon fields in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, withdrawing the company from all projects in which Eni participated in Turkey.

The Italian company's largest project which it was implementing in Turkey with Turkish Çalık Enerji, was the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project, designed to ensure a supply of gas from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, bypassing the Bosporus and Dardanelles.

After the rupture of relations with Eni, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz said the country can also freeze implementation of the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project if another partner is not found.

In fact, today Turkey is not in need of the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline project as much as at the time when it was planned albeit only namely, in 2003. The main idea of the project was to minimise shipping traffic through the Bosporus Strait, through which tankers transport crude oil mainly from Russia and Kazakhstan. Today however, Turkey has other alternatives to oil supplies from the Black Sea coast and the most important of them is the Istanbul Canal project.

Since 2011, Turkey started the preparatory work to implement the Istanbul Canal project which aims to connect the Black Sea to the Marmara. The project route will pass through the European part of Istanbul. The designed length of the Istanbul Canal is 45-50 kilometres, has a depth of 25 metres and width of 145-150 metres.

As for the Canal's capacity, it is expected it will exceed the transportation capacity of the Bosporus Strait significantly. For comparison, the Bosporus Strait annually handles up to four million tons of liquefied gas, up to three million tons of chemicals and about 150 million tons of oil.

Moreover, the basic idea of the Istanbul Canal project is to transfer tankers carrying fuel and oil to it which is in contrast to the winding Bosporus Strait. The Istanbul Canal will have a clear line which will reduce the risk of accidents.

Implementation of the project which gets strong support from the Turkish government and foreign financiers, questions the need for the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

In addition, implementation of the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project was postponed several times mainly because of problems with financing and participation of countries. For example in 2011, Transneft, one of the Russian partners of the project, refused to participate in the Samsun-Ceyhan project.

Then Transneft declared the oil pipeline project unprofitable. According to the calculations of the Turkish side, the cost of oil transportation from Russia by sea is $2 per ton and oil supply via the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline will cost $22-$25 per ton.

This means Turkey will not suffer significant damage as a result of totally refusing to participate in the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline. The country will be able to use the new route for oil supply through the Istanbul Canal, saving on the new oil pipeline and in addition, reducing the costs of oil transit as a whole.

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