Daesh threatens the safety of Caucasian pipelines

Daesh threatens the safety of Caucasian pipelines

Fourth trilateral meeting of defense ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia was held in the Azerbaijani city of Gabala on Sunday. One of its topics was the issue of protection of energy and transport projects of Azerbaijan, which pass through Georgia and Turkey to Europe. With the beginning of construction of TAP gas pipeline, which started yesterday, as the European segment of the Southern Gas Corridor that will provide a direct connection between the EU gas market and one of the largest gas fields in the world, it acquires a special significance, since oil and gas infrastructure facilities are at risk of terrorist attacks, including from Daesh (ISIS).

Following private and trilateral talks, defense minister of Azerbaijan Zakir Hasanov highlighted the importance of the meeting. “The parties reiterated the importance of enhancing the combat readiness of the three countries’ armed forces and holding trilateral joint military exercises in order to achieve mutual interoperability, trilateral development of military education and training, development of cooperation on cyber security, and further improvement of trilateral exercises on the protection of oil and gas pipelines.” 

Experts spoke to Vestnik Kavkaza about what and who threatens the safety of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa pipelines, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, as well as TAP and TANAP new pipelines, which are being built in the framework of the Southern Gas Corridor.

Director of the Center for Oil Researches Ilham Shaban explained that in recent years, the number of threats for infrastructure alone has increased. At the same time, the safety is threatened not only by difficult situation in the Middle East, but also by a certain destabilization in the South Caucasus. "Over the past two years, the situation in theworld became much worse, the danger spread to the Middle East, terrorist attacks occur on the territory of Turkey and even at the Azerbaijani pipelines. The destabilization of the Caucasus is observed since 2016," he noted.

At the same time, according to the expert, Azerbaijan increases and will continue to increase the export of hydrocarbons to the West European direction, so the conduction of large-scale events on safety of infrastructure on the entire territory of the pipeline is natural.

In addition to the trilateral cooperation with Georgia and Turkey, he also said that Azerbaijan cooperates with Russia in resolving issues of infrastucture security.

Turkish expert Mehmet Kara noted that as of today, due to the unstable international situation, the safety of energy routes has a special place in the agenda and is as relevant as ever.

"I can't rule out the possibility that this threat comes from Daesh. But it is not just about Daesh. Daesh is an amorphous formation, which poses a threat to the entire world. We must look globally. Europe must receive guarantees of safety of energy supplies from our region. That is why Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey must give these guarantees," the expert said.

He also expressed confidence that such cooperation between Baku, Tbilisi and Ankara can't be aimed against any other country. "It is just interaction of partner countries in the field of security," he explained.

Military expert Uzeir Jafarov agreed with the opinion about relevance of concerns about the safety of energy infrastructure. "Right now, a lot of events are happening in the world. They cause concern of all countries, including those that have energy routes, for example: Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum and others, which are of great economic importance for these countries," he said.

In addition, he pointed out that in order to ensure the safety of energy routes, active cooperation with Russia is also necessary.