Construction is expected to start by the end of 1996 on a $1,000 million natural gas import pipeline from Tabriz in Iran to Ankara, according to officials from the Energy & Natural Resources Ministry. The project forms part of a controversial $18,000 million gas deal signed in Tehran on 12 August by Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, flaunting the recent introduction of sanctions by the US against companies doing business with Iran (MEED 23:8:96, Iran).

Representatives from state pipeline agency Botas and its counterpart National Iranian Gas Company will meet on 10 September in Ankara to discuss technical preparations and studies for the project, and construction tender procedure. The ministry officials claim financing the $850 million 1,150kilometre section inside Turkey of the 1,400-kilometre pipeline will not be a problem, saying proposals have already been received.

However, a much more ambitious project to route a gas export pipeline from Turkmenistan via Iran to Europe stalled in 1995 largely due to likely financing difficulties because of US objections, bankers point out. The Tabriz-Ankara line with a total throughput capacity of 22,000 million cubic metres a year (mcm/y) is also planned to form part of the Turkmenistan pipeline, ministry officials say.

Turkey initially will lift 3,000 mcm/y from the pipeline in 1999, rising in stages to 10,000 mcm/y from 2005. Over the 22-year life of the agreement, Iran will supply a total 190,000 million cubic metres.

Starting from Tabriz, the pipeline will be routed via the border town of Dogubayazit, in Turkey, and afterwards through Erzurum, Erincan, and Sivas to Ankara. Including peripherals, the total length will be about 2,000 kilometres.

The pipeline will also supply Turkey’s east and southeast, the clean-burning gas alleviating chronic winter pollution, particularly in Erzurum. Cheap energy produced by gas-fired, private sector power plants to be built in the east and southeast would attract industry, and benefit the economy of the underdeveloped regions, the officials say.

Turkey will also soon buy an initial 25 MW of electricity from Iran through existing transmission lines, rising to 100 MW by the year-end, a senior ministry official says. The government will also build another 400-kV transmission line link with Iran, he adds.

Once the line was built together with transformer stations on either side of the border, Turkey would be able to import up to 720 MW from Iran, he says.