Russia begins pumping gas under sea to Turkey
The first Russian natural gas pumped through a pipeline under the Black Sea, the world's deepest such gas link, has reached Turkey, the Turkish energy ministry said. "Turkey now has an alternative source of energy," governor Muammer Guler said at a ceremony to mark the occasion in the Black Sea port city of Samsun.
The so-called Blue Stream conduit has been the subject of heated debates in Turkey where many believed it was
technically-unachievable and criticised it as a project that would increase the country's dependency on Russia. The
pipeline, along with another carrying gas from Iran, has also drawn criticism from the US which backs a rival project
to carry natural gas across from the Caspian Sea to Turkey.
The flow through Blue Stream will be raised after pressure has reached the required level within 15 days, Russian officials said.
The 1,393-km pipeline runs from the southern Russian gas plant of Izobilnoy under the sea to Samsun and then to the
capital Ankara. Construction was completed on October 20 with a ceremony at Samsun after the offshore section was
welded to the Turkish section.
The conduit, running at a depth of more than 2 km at some points, took two years to build. The undersea section is about 400 km long.
Turkey was originally to purchase 8 bn cm of gas a year via the Blue Stream link, but earlier this year was forced to
ask Russia for a reduction of both the amount and the price following a severe economic crisis.
Under the new arrangement, Turkey would not purchase any gas in 2002 unless there was demand at home, and will buy only 2 bn cm in 2003.