Analyst: Turkey needs infrastructure focus

July 11, 2011 at 9:06 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, July 11 (UPI) -- Ankara needs to focus on protecting energy infrastructure if it aims to emerge as a more powerful figure in the regional energy sector, an analyst said.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline stretches some 1,100 miles from Azerbaijan to Turkish ports on the Black Sea. It is the second-longest oil pipeline in the world after the Druzhba pipeline in Russia.

BTC hasn't operated at full capacity since at least 2007, costing Turkey around $165 million in potential oil-transit revenue. The pipeline was shut down briefly in 2008 because of a conflict between Russian and Georgia over breakaway republics.

Ankara last year said it would deploy national and private security forces to protect oil and natural gas pipelines after militants with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party were blamed for an explosion that shut down a pipeline from Iran.

Hasan Ozertem, an analyst at the International Strategic Research Organization, told Turkey's daily newspaper Today's Zaman that the pipeline infrastructure in Turkey was a frequent target of saboteurs.

While energy companies and security forces are responsible for protecting the energy networks, there is little central coordination, he said.

"Located between the main global energy suppliers and consumers, Turkey's place within the global energy system attracts attention from the international community," he told the newspaper. "However, it should give priority to creating a legal framework for critical energy infrastructure protection."

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