Independent scientists report on the Blue Stream pipeline

Sep 19, 2001 02:00 AM

Since the decision on gas pipeline Russia-Turkey ("Blue Stream") construction was taken it was not only environmentalist community to get worried about its realisation plans. Many independent scientists on the basis of information available to them expressed their concern about the fact that this project could cause irredeemable damage to the Black Sea ecological system.
In particular, in order to make an independent environmental impact assessment of the project a group of independent experts was formed within Black Sea Socio- Ecological Centre, Gelendzhik. (There is a point not far from this town where the gas pipeline will enter the Black Sea basin).
As a result of study of the pipeline impact's various aspects an analytic information on maritime and coastal Russia-Turkey pipeline areas was prepared by the expert group. The scientists indicated the dangerous factors of the gas pipeline construction and made their recommendations on how to lessen the dangerous impact of the gas pipeline.
This information was forwarded to various State authorities of Russia related with the project. Unfortunately, the scientists opinion was ignored. Nothing has been changed in the project notwithstanding recommendations of the scientists.
Below find enclosed the information from Gelendzhik scientists. Currently the expert group of the Black Sea Socio-Ecological Centre is preparing an updated information, which will include new data on "Blue Stream" received by them.

Information on the maritime and costal sections of the gas pipeline Russia-Turkey ("Blue Stream")
The authors in the present document mainly aimed at justifying their concerns about probable negative and disastrous effects produced by the construction and operation of a unique (from technical point of view) and prejudicial pipeline in the unique natural conditions of the Black Sea, all the undercurrent water sheets of which (at a depth of more than 100-200 m) contain fatal concentration of hydrogen sulphide.
It would be fondly to believe, that today's knowledge allows to describe in details the natural and anthropogenic factors entailing a risk of disastrous effects on the environment as a result of their reciprocal action together with the gas pipeline factor. This unreliability of scientific knowledge in combination with world significance and uniqueness of the Black Sea and technical uniqueness of the designed facility constitute an obvious and unpredictable (as to its scales) risk of the Blue Stream pipeline wreck in its maritime version for all the Black Sea countries and coastal population.

I. Maritime section
1. Pipeline location
1.1. The maritime section of the gas line starts from the Drovyanaya Schel tract 5 km to the Southeast from the resort settlement of Arkhipo-Osipovka and about 2 km to the Northwest from the resort of Inal. The other pipeline end reaches the city of Samsun (Turkey).
1.2. Pipeline length is 396 km long. About 11 km of them will be laid on the Russian shelf (at a depth of about 100 m),50 or 60 km will be situated on continental slope (at a depth of from 100 to 2,000 m). Further up to the foot of the Turkish continental slope, it will cross the Black Sea abyssal plain at depths of up about 2,115 m. The length of the line designed to be built on the Turkish continental slope and shelf will be about 120 km long.
1.3. A large part of the gas line will be located in international waters. Except the Russian and Turkish gas line parts 12-mile long all in all, the international portion will make 340 km or 87 % of the whole maritime section.

2. Gas pipeline and its maritime section technical characteristics.
2.1. Project efficiency is 16 bn cmpy or 43,8 mm cm per 24 hours.
2.2. Upstream pressure of the maritime section pipeline (at the compressor plant (hereinafter CP) "Beregovaya") will be 25 MPascal (250at). Downstream pressure (CP "Samsun") will make 5,4 MPascal (54 at). Pressure drop in the pipe is expected to be about 0,05 MPascal (0,5 at) per km. Upstream pressure (CP "Beregovaya") in force-major augmented mode will constitute 35 MPascal (350 at). Upstream gas temperature is +57°C, downstream one is +1°C.
2.3. The project supposes two versions of pipeline location as follows:
-- 1 pipe branch with inner diameter of 700 mm;
-- 2 pipe branches with inner diameter of 534 mm.
2.4. Longitudinal welded pipes of steel APT-5 X70 with trizonal polymer hydraulic seal 500 microns thick (0.5 mm). Anodic protection is envisaged. Underwater work practice in the Black Sea showed, that alloy steel articles are also subject to corrosive attack of dissolved hydrogen sulphide.
2.5. Today's world practice of deep water gas lines construction does not know depths more than 1,600 m. A record example is gas pipeline built at a depth of 101 km on ocean bed with customized natural settings in Mexican bay outside the zone of hydrosulphuric contamination.
2.6. It is necessary to underline a circumstance missed by many project participants (and kept secret by the authors of the project), that at the first 80-90 km of the pipe line, gas pressure will exceed the external hydrostatic pressure. Internal pressure exceeding on the edge of the shelf will make about 23 MPascal (230 at), at a depth of 1,000 m (16 km from the coast) it will be 14 MPascal (140 at) and at the foot of the continental slope (about 50 km from the coast) it will make 2 MPascal (20 at). The same situation is on the Turkish continental slope section and shelf of about 100 km long in sum. However overpressures inside the pipe there do not exceed 5 MPascal (50 at).

3. Geologic characteristics of the pipe route and probable impact on the gas line. The Black Sea bed along the gas line route is characterized by polysurface, steep gradients (about 18 degrees) and is composed by non-steady geologic formations. It is explained by recent neotectonic processes saturated with energy on the Black Sea shelf and continental slope in its Caucasian part.
3.1. There we can see an intensive accumulation of new recently formed silts. Their drop occurs partially by system of active underwater canyons, partially at slow creeping of large mass of non-lithified silts, and also at activation of underwater landslides transforming into mud and rock or mud flows. Great density and speed of these flows causes their large energy sufficient for destruction even of high-strength heavy wall pipes of the gas line.
3.2. Neotectonic motions of the earth's crust near the Caucasian continental slope generate here seismic earthquake centres of 8-10 balls in focus, that is just enough for destruction of the gas line. However even weak seismic fluctuations (their recurrence rate is much higher) are able to initiate the mentioned above geological processes. Seismic risk as to the Turkish shelf and slope is confirmed by recent seismic events in Turkey.
3.3. In case of affection of the pipe line by small-scale or peripheral parts of water-ground flows, thin (0,5 mm) hydraulic seal of pipes will be most probably destroyed; what (in conditions of a high corrosivity rate of hydrosulphuric Black Sea water (9-14 mg/l) will promptly lead to destruction of the pipe line walls. Besides that such flows are able to create vast holes under the pipe line or to bridge it over by the ground dropped out of a flow.
3.4. Within the territory of the Caucasian continental slope and its foot diaper folding has been found (often expressed in bottom relief); as well as indications of intensive gas and hydrate saturation of bottom sediments and mud volcanism. Thermal and mechanical effects of the pipe line can result in change of strength properties of bottom sediments, what will initiate mechanical pressure inside the pipe line walls, increasing risk of its destruction.
3.5. Different opinions of experts as to scales and recurrence of the above mentioned geologic phenomena are lawful. However the existence of these phenomena is confirmed by numerous observations. In particular, the hydrographic service of the Black Sea Navy has captured powerful underwater moving of grounds in the area of Idokopas Cape (approximately 30 km north-west from the beginning of the gas line maritime section); they were noticed due to breakaway of an underwater cable and formation of tsunami-like waves registered by specialists.

4. Gas breakthrough (script of a catastrophe).
In item 2.6 it has already been mentioned, that contrary to the protestations of the authors, owners and supporters of the project "Blue Stream", that on the Black Sea bed the gas breakthrough is not possible, almost 170 km of the pipe line will be under considerable exceeding internal pressure. But, both the sections, Turkish and in particular Russian ones are designed within the limits of complex from the geological point of view and consequently risky parts of the route. However the destruction of the pipe line can be provoked not only by natural processes, but also by wars, military exercises, acts of terrorism, breach of the gasket technology and the gas pipeline operation and maintenance, as well as accidental impact as a result of various activities in the water area.
4.1. Gas breakthrough out of the pipe laid on the shelf will lead to the emission of tens millions cm (according to tentative estimations it will be more than 50 mm cm) of compressed gas into water mass, and then into the atmosphere. The spontaneous combustion of gas is very probable due to electrostatic effects in a cloud of spray above the emission centre.
The combustion of gas can have an explosive character. The high probability of this is confirmed by numerous cases of spontaneous combustion and detonations of gas at eruption of mud volcanoes (including underwater ones) in Azerbaijan, on Kerch and Taman peninsulas. Lifting and intermixing of water strata by gas will take away from the sea bottom friable silty precipitation. The scales of water contamination then are comparable to consequences of a strong gale. It is admitted even by the developers of the project.
However, they do not take into account the fact, that the storm contamination of sea water is localized in a coastal area and width of contamination strip seldom exceeds 0,5-0,7 km. The width of the shelf (see item 1.1) in the pipeline construction strip makes 11 km, and the sea here is habitable down to a depth of more than 100 m, while the biota is not adapted to powerful mud loads.
4.2. Destruction of the pipe line and gas breakthrough on the continental slope are possible for the reasons, indicated in item 3, on all its extent up to the point, where internal pressure in the gas line is equal to the external hydrostatic pressure (see item 2.6). At gas breakthrough at a depth of 1000 m (approximately 15 km from the shore), where the overpressure inside the pipe is of 14 MPascal (140 at) more than 30 mm cm of gas will be thrown out into water strata, and then into the atmosphere.
Reaching the sea surface, gas will carry away due to air-lift effect about 600 thousand cm of water, contaminated with hydrogen sulphide (H2S concentration -- 9-14 mg/l). One part of hydrogen sulphide will be degased into the atmosphere, and another part will destroy all the biota in the inhabited 200-m layer around the catastrophe centre. Together with water, huge quantities of bottom silty precipitation also containing hydrogen sulphide will be raised up.
A spontaneous combustion of mixed gas and explosive processes at gas burst into atmosphere are very much likely to take place in the same way as at gas breakthrough on the shelf.
4.3. Geologic characteristics of the Turkish shelf and continental slope and also the overpressure inside the pipe, beginning with 290th km of the pipeline route, reaching here 5 MPascal, all that makes possible the destruction of the pipe and gas burst on this part of the "Blue Stream" as well.
4.4. The destruction of the pipe line within the Black Sea abyssal plain (approximately from 90 up to 290 km of the route) can take place as a result of mud volcano activity, softening and fluctuations of base grounds because of their degasification and decomposition of gas hydrates, which can be contained in base grounds. However only on this portion of the route gas burst into water strata is not possible due to the exuberant external pressure of water. In this case even at small disturbance of air-tightness, the pipe will be supplied with water at a pressure of about 8 MPascal (80 ATM).
Near-bottom thermobaric conditions and large amounts of compressed gas are congenial for generation of powerful gas-hydrate plugs inside the pipe. The presence of hydrogen sulphide in the water can play the role of catalyst in this process, despite the inhibiting effect of water salinity. The removal of stypage of the pipe line by gas hydrates is a rather complicated problem, it is technically possible only at a large distance from the pipeline entry.
4.5. In case of mass gas breakthrough (see item 4.1.-4.3.) the character of the Black Sea streams will promote carrying out of raised hydrogen-sulphide water and suspended matters toward the Russianresort coast and further to Crimea (Ukraine). In case of breakthrough in the Turkish part of the sea besides the Turkish coast the Georgia one can suffer.
The meteorological conditions during catastrophe period can aggravate its consequences because of windward flood towards the populated coastal strip of hydrogen sulphide, ingressed into the atmosphere above the centre of breakthrough or inflammable methane and products of its combustion, if it would be breakthrough on the shelf (see item 4.1. and 4.2.) Besides that, effects of gas breakthroughs outside the pipe described in items 4.1. and 4.2. are dangerous for navigation, specially for passenger and tourist routes, located from 10 up to 50 km from the coast.
The character of development and scales of negative and disastrous consequences of gas breakthrough outside the pipe on the Black Sea bed can be much more various and intensive, than the above mentioned examples. The necessity of a more detailed research assessment of consequences of damage anddestruction of the pipe line on the sea bed is recognized by experts.

5. International legal and political aspects of the Blue Stream project (maritime version).
5.1. Russia, being historically a Black Sea state, participates in international conventions and agreements on environmental safety of the water areas and whole basin of the Black Sea. In Bucharest, in 1972 Russia actively participated in the development of the Convention of 6 Black Sea countries on the Black Sea protection from pollution and signed it. The Black Sea Environmental Program (BSEP) is set up and works with the participation of Russia.
This organization elaborated important documents and made them signed by the ministers of nature protection departments of six Black Sea countries. Among them "Black Sea Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis" and "Strategic action plan on the Black Sea rehabilitation and protection".
In these documents is underlined the transboundary character of environmental processes and risks concerned with them in exclusively self-contained Black Sea basin, in which practically any environmental negative accident, process or risk of such incidents affect the interests of all Black Sea countries and their population.
The above mentioned data shows a high degree of probability of negative and disastrous environmental effects of the Black Sea gas pipeline "Blue Stream", that can affect the concerns not only of the countries - participants of the project, but also of the whole Black Sea region. In this connection it is clear, that the narrow branch-wise approach to the design and implementation of the project "Blue Stream" by Gazprom's leadership contradicts not only international obligations of Russia, but also its long-term geopolitical interests.
5.2. It is known, that alternative versions of Russian gas deliveries to Turkey were also under discussion. The "Eastern" version envisaged gas pipeline construction through the territory of Georgia and (or) Armenia. The "Western" one required the extension of already existing pipe line system through the territories of Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria with an output to the European part of Turkey.
Both versions, unlike the marine one, are feasible with the help of traditional, tested and reliable technologies. Both versions, apart from adjustment of acceptable economic relations with Turkey, would provide long-term strengthening of Russia's positions in the countries bordering Russia. This obvious circumstance has not been taken into consideration in the Blue Stream project (maritime version) by Gazprom.
5.3. Already now this project, as well as its future implementation and further maintenance and operation of the gas pipeline under the Black Sea (however, like other technocratic projects of a similar kind) causes damage and will damage the Black Sea region, the only subtropical one in Russia with its unique resorts, the population of which is directly or indirectly concerned with resort activity.
This damage is connected not only with loss of attractiveness of resort region containing (even in prospects) such a dangerous object. The interest in investments in resort business is in decrease, as the "industrialization" of the Black Sea coast of Russia (Blue Stream project will also promote it) increases the risk of investment into easily vulnerable resort business. The oil spill at the terminal Sheskharis (Novorossiisk) in 1997, that practically broke the resort season of 1997 in Kabardinka and Gelendzhik, serves as an example.
We do not know valid legal documents corroborating and guaranteeing the keeping of promises declared by the "Blue Stream" supporters as to compensations to the resort region and its population of losses and risk related to the implementation of the project and operation of the gas line, including emergencies, as well as those concerning the gasification of the coastal settlements.

II. Coastal section of overland pipeline
The coastal section of the designed gas pipeline crosses the territory of the resort city of Gelendzhik. Whereas the feasibility study of the Russian-Turkey gas pipeline was not considered at the local level, the Gelendzhik public organization "Public Environmental assessment" was refused to organize an assessment of the indicated seaside section of the route. However, the State environmental assessment in the decision of 23.04.1998 (issue 5.7.1) has paid a special attention to the uniqueness of forests of Mediterranean type in that part of the Black Sea coast, and to the presence of valuable flora including endemic and relict species entered the Russian Red Data Book.
The choice of the route is recognized as an optimal one, bypassing the protected areas, water-protection zones and most endangered natural complexes. But, unfortunately, it is not true. It is necessary to pay attention that at the stage of route selection and at working out of the feasibility study of the gas pipeline, a seaside section is planned to be constructed on a territory having the protected area status, namely:
1. The whole area of sanitary protection district of Gelendzhik health resorts group, crossed by the gas pipeline seaside section, has the protected area status of Federal level (Ordinance of Government of Russian Federation # 591-P of 12.04.96).
2. The gas pipeline route crosses the Southeast part of the natural monument "Forest tract of a pine Crimean "Arkhipo-Osipovskoe", which is under protection by the Resolution of Krasnodar Territory Executive Committee # 488 of 14.02.83. It also includes Drovyanaya Schel, a narrow seaside canyon, in which one the environment, including the Red Data Book vegetation was kept untouched due to its inaccessibility and steep relief.
3. A coastal strip of not less than 100 mm wide and a contiguous water area, strip of 2,000 m wide all in all, are the part of a zone of stringent sanitary protection (1-st zone of sanitary protection). The transition from the overland section of the gas pipeline to the maritime one (the threat of which has been already described) isplanned to be located here.
This point, Drovyanaya Schel, is 5 km from the Arkhipo-Osipovka health resort and 2 km from the health resort of Inal (Tuapse district). The seven km section of the coastal area, which is the territory of the above mentioned "Forest tract of a pine Crimean "Arkhipo-Osipovskoe", forms the special microclimate of the indicated health resorts and makes their recreational zone.
4. Considering the dimensions of sanitary -- protected zones of the designed project and accompanying facilities (from 500 up to 1800 m) a considerable proportion of this unique seaside landscape will be eliminated from recreational use of health resorts. The state environmental assessment (page 116) made a well-founded remark, that the above mentioned protected areas are not taken into account in the feasibility study.
So the statement that the construction and operation of the gas pipeline will not affect protected areas are wrongful. In the same item 1 the state environmental assessment notes, that the construction of the CP "Beregovaya" and the seaside section of the gas pipeline contradicts the Law of Krasnodar Territory "On natural resources, health-improving areas and health resorts of Krasnodar Territory". It is necessary to add, that the Law of Russian Federation #26-F of 23.02.95 "On natural medical resources, health-improving areas and health resorts" is also infringed.

Conclusions and suggestions
The analysis of publications related to the Blue Stream project provokes the impression, that Gazprom avoids clear and detailed answers as to maritime and seaside sections of the gas pipeline. On the one hand, Gazprom has not had any experience of construction of maritime gas pipelines. On the other hand, the conditions for the gas pipeline construction under the Black Sea are very hard, and in many respects they are extreme.
Gazprom's experts seem to have more questions as to the maritime section, than answers. For this reason earnest attitude towards general public's opinions, concerns and suggestions, including environmental public together with independent experts is so important.

Our suggestions, based on the above-stated, are as follows:
1. Taking into account high risk of damaging to the environment by the construction and operation of the Black Sea Russian-Turkey deep water gas pipeline ("Blue Stream"), and also the transboundary character of damage, specially in case of disaster, affecting concerns of all Black Sea countries, -- also taking into account, that more than 340 km of the pipe line, what makes more than 87 % of the whole pipeline route, are located in international waters, -- respecting and reckoning with the international obligations of Russia in the field of environmental protection, including prevention of damage to the environment of the Black Sea basin, to submit the project of international Black Sea gas pipeline "Blue Stream" (maritime section) for consideration by international environmental assessment, held by independent experts and representatives of all the Black Sea countries, including representatives of environmental public of these countries.
2. Taking into account all the long-term strategic geopolitical interests of Russia to return to consideration of other versions of deliveries of the Russian gas to Turkey, apart from the marine one.
3. To stop all construction and preparative works on the gas pipeline route, in the zone of the PC "Beregovaya" and maritime section of the gas pipeline, until detailed researches of underwater gas line route along all its length are completed, eliminating all ambiguous questions, related to environmental safety at the construction and operation of the gas pipeline.
To realize these researches it would be quite wise to engage marine geologic organizations based in Gelendzhik, having a rich long-term experience of sea bed research. The population and general public should have an easy access to the outcomes of these researches, as it is put in the Law of Russian Federation "On environmental protection" 1991. The researches undertaken before on the gas pipeline route should also be obtainable and open for general public and population. These researches should be paid by Gazprom.
4. According to the Legislation to prepare and to publish, for general public be aware of them, legal contractual documents (if any others are not stipulated by the Law) on compensation for the Black Sea resort region of Russia and its population of all losses, damages and risks, which can occur by the reason of the designing, construction and operation of the gas pipeline "Blue Stream".

The authors of the present document believe, that the set up above information, arguments and suggestions will be a reason for serious estimation of probable negative and/or disastrous consequences of construction and operation of a technically unique gas pipeline in risky and unique natural conditions of the Black Sea and its Russian subtropical resort coast.
Great volumes of water contaminated with hydrogen sulphide (about half a million cubic km) potentially are dangerous not only for the Black Sea region, but also on a global scale. The rather thin inhabited layer (100-200 m), above a dead 1,5-2 km deep water strata, can be destroyed by processes initiated by a breakthrough of compressed gas out off the pipe line.
Disastrous, unpredictable as to their scales consequences are difficult to evaluate. Today's knowledge about the Black Sea does not allow to eliminate the possibility of a similar catastrophe. As the world experience shows, the reasons of environmental catastrophes are rarely anticipated.
In "Decision of the state environmental assessment" (page 60) the experts note, that "explosive and fire threatening risk of all stages of gas transportation, large volumes of freight turn-over, extreme vulnerability of a large part of elements of the pipeline system in case of technological and natural emergencies, as well as deliberate damages (armed conflicts, acts of terrorism etc.) can cause considerable damage to the population and environment".
The significance of this quite true general statement is aggravated as for the maritime section of the gas pipeline by apparent insufficiency of our knowledge about unique properties of the Black Sea and processes on its bed and in water hydrosulphuric strata. It is unpredictability of consequences following the Blue Stream realization, that represents the main threat of the project to all the Black Sea, countries and peoples living on its seaside.

The present information is taken from the sources as follows:
-- the "Decision of an experts commission of state environmental assessment on the feasibility study of the Russian-Turkey gas pipeline construction (maritime version)" of April 20, 1998. Approved by the ordinance of State committee of Russian Federation on environmental protection. Moscow, May 18, 1998 # 302. Published in the "Environmental assessment and EIA" # 4, 1998.
-- open geologic reports of past years on the Black Sea, to which we have had access, from the funds of "Juzhmorgeology" and the book "Tectonics of cainozoic sediments of the Black Sea hollow" 1985.
-- numerous publications related to the project "Blue Stream", that are at the disposal of the Gelendzhik Black Sea Socio-Ecological Centre (BSSEC)
-- publications on international environmental activities in the Black Sea region.

The experts
Members of initiative group of regional Black Sea Socio-ecological Centre:
-- V.V. Solovyov -- geologist-geophysicist, veteran of Research Ocean Geophysics Institute;
-- V.A. Chalenko -- Director of Research Manufacturing Enterprise "Juzhmorgeo Eco"
-- N.V. Mamaeva -- doctor of biological science, veteran of Institute of oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences;
-- M.M. Osicheva -- architect, President of Black Sea Socio-Ecological Centre.
-- Consultations provided by the doctor of engineering science G.A. Golovko

Source: Regional Black Sea Socio-ecological Centre
Alexander's Commentary

Change of face - change of phase

In the period of July 20 till August 3, 2015, Alexander will be out of the office and the site will not or only irreg

read more ...
« April 2020 »
April
MoTuWeThFrSaSu
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30

Register to announce Your Event

View All Events