Turkish Straits at risk from oil and gas transit boom

Growing oil and gas tanker traffic and outdated Montreux Convention risk Turkish Straits, Bosphorus Energy Club head says

Turkish Straits at risk from oil and gas transit boom

World Bulletin / News Desk

The growing volume of oil and gas tanker traffic is creating significant environmental, public safety and economic risks for the entire length of the shores of the Turkish Straits, the chairman of the Bosphorus Energy Club said Tuesday.

Since the signing of the Montreux Convention in 1936, the legal instrument governing the regime of the Straits, the size and capacity of the ships has grown enormously, which has raised major safety concerns, Mehmet Ogutcu told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

On April 7, a ship hit the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul and crashed into a historic mansion causing extensive damage to the mansion, its environment and its contents.

The Malta-flagged tanker was carrying 62.6 tons of grain from Russia to Saudi Arabia. A technical problem on the ship caused the crash. The strait was closed to two-way vessel traffic following the incident.

Under the Montreux Convention, merchant vessels enjoy the freedom of passage through the Turkish Straits, while the transit of warships is subject to restrictions, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The Black Sea's only connection to the world's oceans is through Turkey's Straits and the Sea of Marmara.

The volume of traffic has increased greatly - from 4,500 in 1934 to 49,304 in 1998. In 2017, 87,593 ships passed through the straits out of which 13,732 comprised carriers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), as well as oil tankers, making the Turkish Straits one of the world's busiest maritime chokepoints.

"I believe that revising the Montreux Convention in keeping with changing times is not only a legal matter, nor is it a political matter between the contracting parties to resolve, but is a matter of urgency," Ogutcu warned.

Last Mod: 10 Nisan 2018, 14:56
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