Below is my latest article for Natural Gas Europe - original here.
At the end of May, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline carrying gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey blew up in the Turkish section. Full supplies were suspended until 11 June, whilst repair work was carried out on the line. The extent of the damage and the reluctance of Turkish officials to confirm the cause have led to widespread speculation that Kurdish militants were responsible.
If this is the case it underlines the ongoing security threats to gas supplies to Turkey, and highlights the risks which new pipelines to bring Caspian gas to Europe may face. Although Ankara has emphasised the importance of securing critical energy infrastructure, pipelines remain extremely vulnerable. Whilst the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) remains active, providing perfect security will remain impossible.
Information about the BTE blast, which took place on 29 May in or near the city of Kars, remains extremely scarce. The route of the BTE pipeline runs through Turkey’s northeast and eastern regions, a little outside the PKK’s normal operating area of southeastern Turkey but certainly not out of their reach. A 2008 attack on the BTC oil pipeline took place in Refahiye, which is significantly west of Kars and also out of the PKK’s usual operating area.