The flow of natural gas to Turkey from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field via the South Caucasus pipeline would resume by midnight on Wednesday at the earliest, officials have said, following technical issues that interrupted the operation of the pipeline a day earlier.
Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız said gas flow is expected to return to regular levels by Thursday night at the latest. He highlighted the role cold weather has played in obstructing efforts to fix the technical problems observed not only in Azerbaijan but also in Iran. He compared it to recent power cuts across Europe caused by severe weather conditions. Responding to reported rumors in Turkey suggesting the drop in gas supply was intentional, Yıldız answered: “These are unfair to our Azeri and Iranian counterparts and negatively affect our relationship with them.” Yıldız added, “We don’t believe the reduction of the flow of natural gas is intentional.”
Yıldız said the ministry’s predictions concerning supply problems do not indicate any difficulties for ordinary citizens, adding: “Our Azeri and Iranian brothers have been working hard to overcome these technical difficulties. One of the five units in the pipeline coming from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field has been put back in service, which suggests the other units will be gradually brought back into operation by midnight on Wednesday.
Concerning questions over whether any precautionary measures will be taken, he said: “As long as we don’t face any external problems in the volume of gas we are currently receiving, which comes from five different countries, I don’t predict any difficulties in the future.” The flow of Iranian natural gas to Turkey was also reduced on Tuesday due to further technical difficulties. Reports said failures at Iranian compressor stations, which pressurize natural gas at intervals along the pipeline, are expected to be fixed as of Wednesday afternoon. Turkey’s current natural gas consumption is 192 million cubic meters per day, which is above the seasonal average due to the particularly cold weather over the past few weeks. Last year, Turkey’s natural gas consumption was 171 million cubic meters per day during the winter.
The country imports 6.6 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year from Azerbaijan, around 16 percent of its total consumption. It also imports around 10 bcm from Iran, Turkey’s second largest supplier after Russia. Turkey halted gas supplies to Greece following the disruption in supply from Azerbaijan and said it has asked Iran to increase its supply.