Turkey will not allow LNG ships to transit through the Bosphorus due to possible environmental damage and deterioration on its historical heritage, said Energy Security Center Coordinator of the International Strategic Research Organization in Turkey on Tuesday.
'Ukraine wants to transfer its LNG through the Bosphorus. Kiev sees Ankara’s position as important on their projects and Turkey has a clear stance on this issue,' Hasan Selim Ozertem said.
According to Ozertem, since the 1990’s Turkey is concerned about the number of tankers pasing through the Bosphorus. However, the recent number of tankers on the Bosphorus has increased to such an extent that it has become a danger to Istanbul's historical heritage.
He added the increasing potential danger in the waters concerns Istanbul with its population of almost 20 million and for Turkey as a whole.
'I read the Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the Straits, and according to the convention, it is not easy for Turkey to have a say on the trade ships, but Turkey may have a word about controlling traffic on the Bosphorus. But we shouldn’t forget that the Montreux Convention was signed in 1936 and since then lots of things have changed especially the tonnage of ships and technology,' he added.
With Ukraine's aim of becoming energy-dependent from Russia, the country plans to build an LNG terminal worth more than $900 million to receive LNG supplies through the Bosphorus.
According to the Ukrainian media, Alexander Svetelik, deputy energy and coal minister of Ukraine said Turkey might let Ukraine transfer LNG across the Bosphorus Strait.
'The Turkish side didn’t make a final decision yet,” he said.
Following Svetelik’s statement, Turkish Ambassador to Kiev, Yonet Can Tezel, spoke to the Ukrainian media and said Turkey will not allow the passage of tankers with LNG via the Bosphorus Strait.
Andrew Buckland, principal analyst for LNG shipping and trade research at Wood Mackenzie on the other hand argues that Turkey has not got the right to refuse the passage of commercial ships, including liquefied natural gas tankers to pass through the Bosphorus.
'Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, in theory Turkey has to allow commercial ships including LNG to transit the Bosphorus, although in the past they have imposed restrictions on some ship types to make it more difficult,' said Buckland.
'LNG shipping has an excellent safety record and is not as dangerous as some existing cargo ships that currently transit the Bosphorus,' he added.
Ukraine imported 4.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas between January and February in 2014 all from Russia, while in the same period of 2015; it imported the same volume of gas but only 1.8 billion cubic meters from Russia and 2.3 billion cubic meters from Europe.
By Murat Temizer