Energy security: Bosporus
Location: Turkey; this 17-mile long waterway divides Asia from Europe and connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean Sea
Oil Flows (2004E): 3.1 million bbl/d (nearly all southbound; mostly crude oil with several hundred thousand barrels per day of products as well)
Destination of Oil Exports: Western and Southern Europe
Concerns/Background: Only half a mile wide at its narrowest point, the Turkish Straits are one of the world’s busiest (50,000 vessels annually, including 5,500 oil tankers), and most difficult-to-navigate waterways. Some of the export routes for oil production from the Caspian Sea region pass westwards through the Black Sea and the Turkish Straits en route to the Mediterranean Sea and world markets. The largest expansion of transit volumes would come from the expansion of the CPC pipeline. The ports of the Black Sea, along with those in the Baltic Sea, were the primary oil export routes of the former Soviet Union, and the Black Sea remains the largest outlet for Russian oil exports. Exports through the Turkish Straits have grown since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, and there is growing concern that projected Caspian Sea export volumes exceed the ability of the Turkish Straits to accommodate the tanker traffic. Turkey is concerned that the projected increase in large oil tankers would pose a serious navigational safety and environmental threats to the Turkish Straits. The largest tankers that can pass through the Turkish Straits are the Suezmax class tankers (120,000-200,000 dead weight tons).
Under the Montreux Convention of 1936, commercial shipping has the right of free passage through the Bosporus and Turkish Straits in peacetime, although Turkey claims the right to impose regulations for safety and environmental purposes. In October 2002, Turkey placed new restrictions on oil tanker transit through the Bosporus that have slowed tanker transit, including a ban on nighttime transit for ships longer than 200 meters, effectively including all crude oil and large petroleum product tankers. Poor weather has caused transit delays as well; during the past winter, delays reportedly reached as much as 20 days for tankers waiting to transit the Turkish Straits, costing about $50,000 in demurrage charges per day .