The Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA Report) for the section of the South Stream Offshore Pipeline that will cross the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Turkey.
The EIA Report consists of an assessment of potential impacts of the Project on the environment, including seabed geology, water quality and marine ecology. The Report concluded that the Project is not expected to have any significant impacts on the marine environment or fisheries in the Turkish section.
Minimal Environmental Impact
The pipeline will be constructed at a distance of over 110 kilometres from the Turkish coast, in waters up to 2,200 metres deep. Due to the anoxic nature of the Black Sea environment, with virtually no oxygen below 100-200 metres, hardly any life is found at these depths. Therefore, little environmental impacts are expected during pipeline construction. Furthermore, fishing activities generally take place closer to the coast and pipeline construction is not expected to have a significant effect on these activities.
The EIA Report identified a number of measures that have been incorporated into the Project design to avoid or minimise impacts. For example, the pipeline has been rerouted in certain locations so that shipwrecks at the sea bottom are avoided by at least 150 metres, and therefore are not affected during construction.
Turkish EIA Process Completed
The approval follows months of research by Turkish and international experts and consultations. In May 2013, South Stream Transport published an EIA Application File containing a preliminary impact assessment. After consulting with experts, government bodies and the general public, the feedback on this document was considered for the preparation of a draft EIA Report, which then went through an additional review and consultation process.
Positive conclusions on the EIA Report were issued by relevant Turkish authorities, including the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Turkish Navy and Coast Guard. The final public consultation period in May-June 2014 also did not result in any concern, after which the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation issued the ‘EIA Positive Certificate’.
South Stream Transport will continue to liaise with the Turkish authorities prior to and during construction to ensure all necessary safety and security measures are place. Offshore pipe laying will start in Russian waters in late 2014 and the first vessel will enter the Turkish EEZ in the first quarter of 2015. The first pipeline will be operational by the end of 2015.