In an official ceremony in the northern province of Samsun on the Black Sea coast, the offshore section of the pipeline was welded to the Turkish section to finalize the pipeline’s two-year construction. At the ceremony, Energy Minister Zeki Cakan said: “Many had doubts about this project and claimed it was a dream. But it has been realized and it will serve the socio-economic development of both countries and open up new fields of cooperation”.
The 1,393-km pipeline, the second of its kind between the two countries, runs from the southern Russian gas plant of Izobilnoy under the Black Sea to Samsun, and thence to Ankara. Water depth is as low as 2,150m, making it the world’s deepest undersea link. The pipeline is expected to become operational in December.
Turkey was to purchase 8Bcm of gas a year from the Blue Stream link, but has recently reached an agreement with Russia reducing both the amount and the price of the natural gas it purchases. According to the new arrangement, Turkey will not purchase any gas in 2002 unless there is demand at home, and will buy only 2Bcm in 2003 rather than the previously-agreed 4billion.