By Murat Temizer
ANKARA (AA) – The second line of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project is over 45 percent completed, according to Asli Esen, the project's spokesperson on Wednesday.
Esen told journalists at a news conference that the giant construction vessel, Pioneering Spirit, which is continuing works on the Black Sea, has finished around 46 percent of the pipelaying for the second line as of Aug. 7.
"The vessel completed 435 kilometers of pipelaying, and with the first line in total 1,369 kilometers of pipes were laid," she said.
The project consists of two lines, each with a length of 930 kilometers and a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.
She detailed that the deep-water offshore construction of the first line of the TurkStream was completed at the end of April 2018 to serve Turkey with 15.75 billion cubic meters of capacity while the second line plans to transfer 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe.
The construction of other supporting infrastructure for the project with the receiving terminal in Turkey's northwestern town of Kiyikoy is ongoing, she said, adding that its function is as a controlling station and is not for gas storage.
– Environmental steps
Matteo Veronesi, TurkStream's permit manager, who also spoke at the news conference, said that environmental impact has been considered in every aspect of the project.
Veronesi said the South Stream Transport B.V., which is responsible for the construction of the gas pipeline's offshore section, is committed to minimizing impact to local forestry resources.
"The project area was selected so that it doesn't have an impact on Longoz forests and protected areas. The Longoz forests are located 15 kilometers to the north, as specified in the TurkStream EIA Report. In line with the requirements of the Turkish legislation, the company paid the forestry permits fees, which include reforestation fees.
"In addition, the company commissioned an independent study to determine the approach to afforestation from the Istanbul State University Forestry faculty. Subsequently, we signed an agreement with the General Directorate of Forestry and Turkish BOTAS for the implementation of the afforestation scheme," Veronesi explained.
"Although the definitive number of trees to be replanted will depend on the scheme to be implemented by the Forestry Directorate, we anticipate an afforestation ratio of minimum 1 to 5. This means that at least five trees will be replanted for every tree lost," he said.
He also highlighted that ecology protection is a top priority for them.
"The project has committed to minimizing the impacts to local ecology. A number of measures have been implemented, including avoidance of ecologically sensitive and protected areas, relocation of over 1,100 individual animals from the construction area, site preparation before bird breeding season, ecological training and induction for relevant construction workers. Ecologists are undertaking an "environmental watch brief" during construction," Veronesi said.
"Results collected to date show that the project has not caused significant impacts to the environment," Veronesi stressed.
He said that monitoring would continue until the end of the construction while impacts during the operation phase would also be monitored.
Iain Wood, the project's stakeholder engagement expert, also declared that social responsibility is an important part of the project with the aim of ensuring good neighborly relations with the Kiyikoy community.
To meet this aim, he said the company is committed to having an open and respectful dialogue with all stakeholders throughout the lifetime of the project.
"We welcome feedback from community members, NGOs, businesses, government, industry groups and other stakeholders. Feedback from the community is valuable to us so that we can ensure that relevant and important issues are appropriately addressed. Ensuring regular information exchange and dialogue is key to avoiding or minimizing potential impacts on livelihoods," he said.
Part of this process involves engaging with stakeholders who may experience economic impacts, assessing and where possible avoiding this impact, and if necessary, agreeing on appropriate solutions or compensation.
Wood noted that a compensation mechanism has been implemented to deal with situations in which affected people or businesses are appropriately compensated on a consistent and equitable basis.
"A ‘long-term’ community investment program for 2018 – 2019 has been developed and agreed with Kiyikoy community stakeholders in April 2018. All of our community investment projects and plans have involved dialogue with community members and groups to identify, plan and design and execute projects in accordance with the needs of Kiyikoy," he concluded.