Gas shortages begin in Turkey due to crash in provision from Iran

Turkish companies were told to prepare for power cuts by state gas pipeline company Botas Thursday as a serious drop in the flow of Iranian gas began to bite. CNN-Turk reported that more than 50 companies gas supply had been cut off and the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted the general director of Istanbul's main gas distribution company as saying more could be expected.

"If the pressure falls, it's probable that we will go to some constraints at industrial facilities in Istanbul. But there is no problem in homes," Levent Tufekci said.

Istanbul is home to around 20 percent of Turkey's population of 71 million, and is the country's commercial center. Istanbul uses 550 million cubic meters of gas every month in winter, Tufekci said. He said he hoped to create a gas depot this summer that would hold enough to supply the city for 3.5 months.

Turkish Chamber of Commerce head M. Rifat Hisarcikcioglu called on the Turkish government to come up with an emergency solution to volatility in natural gas supplies from Russia and Iran.

"The wrongness of Turkey's policy of natural gas dependency has been debated for years," Hisarcikcioglu said. "But because the necessary precautions weren't taken in time, at the companies that produce with natural gas we are facing a serious production loss."

Hisarcikcioglu said that the lack of alternative sources, of supply guarantees and natural gas depots were "dangerous signals both for today, and for the future."

Turkey receives almost all of its gas from abroad, with Russia and Iran providing the majority of its supply. Flow of natural gas from Iran dropped as much as 80 percent after a technical malfunction was reported last Friday. The Turkish Energy Ministry said then they expected the problem to be fixed in two of three days. But instead,

Turkey has begun to feel the squeeze six days later.

Botas cut off gas to three companies that produce electricity in the industrial city of Kayseri on Thursday, Anatolia reported. "The main cause of the cut is Iran," said the company's local director, Kemal Tortop.

Turkey's largest cardboard producer, Kartonsan, closed down and was planning to send its workers away on paid leave, the company's production director, Bulent Kaya, told Anatolia. "We're talking about a production loss of 450-500 tons because of the natural gas cut," Kaya said. "Because we can't run the factory, we're planning on giving 400 workers paid leave", reports the AP.


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