MUCH HAS BEEN DONE TO MINIMISE THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL IMPACT OF THE TURKSTREAM PROJECT, CONSTRUCTED IN AN AREA KNOWN FOR ITS BEAUTY, HISTORY AND TRADITIONAL INDUSTRIES
HOW WE WORK
The small, sleepy village of Kiyikoy in the Thrace region of Turkey has become home to a new, strategically significant project for south and southeast Europe. The gas receiving terminal for TurkStream – which delivers energy from Russia to Turkey via pipelines across the Black Sea – can now be found just along the coast.
Forestry, animal husbandry and fishing are the lifeblood of the village of 1,900 residents. Looking out across the Black Sea, you’ll spot trawlers fishing for anchovy, mackerel and sprats. Back on land, in the rich pine forests near the village, others make their livelihoods from herding and rearing cattle, water buffalo and sheep.
The area is renowned for its pristine nature, archaeological sites and slow pace of life – making it a magnet for tourists, especially in the summer when temperatures can reach 28˚ C. Selves Beach, near the shore section of the project, is one of the most popular beaches with tourists for camping and sunbathing.
Given the area’s small community, tourism, traditional industries and scenic beauty, it was incredibly important to minimise the environmental impact of the project, while protecting the livelihoods of the locals.
WORDS CHRISTINA McPHERSON
PUBLISHED MARCH 2020
The area’s beaches are popular with tourists for sunbathing and camping in the summer
Assessing the potential impact
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) were carried out in Russia and Turkey for the offshore and onshore parts of the project including the gas receiving terminal. The project had to comply with high environmental standards and Petrofac set up a team dedicated to managing these aspects of the project. An environmental engineer ensured the project was compliant with Turkey’s environmental regulations and standards; a corporate social responsibility engineer liaised with the local community and put a complaints system in place; and an archaeological engineer liaised with the local archaeological ministry and introduced ‘chance finds’ procedures for any discoveries made onsite.
More than 50 bulbs of the species Lilium martagon were collected and relocated to suitable habitats not affected by the project.
Flora and fauna
A total of 297 flora species can be found in the project area – with three native to the region and five rare species. Studies also identified 34 species of mammals and 112 bird species. Ecologists onsite undertook ‘environmental watching briefs’, and any fauna and flora discovered during the clearance of vegetation were relocated. This included some vulnerable and threatened species, such as the spur-thighed tortoise and meadow lizard.
Forestry and fishing: protecting the local economy
The forest in the vicinity of the project is a key source of income and supports a number of activities such as tree-cutting, animal husbandry, beekeeping and mushroom foraging. A tree planting scheme, implemented by Petrofac’s client, aims to offset the 23,562 trees removed in the duration of the project. Of this, 17.6 ha will be restored in the immediate area for reforestation, while more than 100,000 trees will be planted in three other regions in Turkey. Likewise, fishing is of great importance to the local economy. With a significant proportion of fishing done inshore around Selves Beach, any disruption from the construction of the onshore pipeline corridor was minimised.
The local buffalo take priority
Animals including water buffalo, sheep and cows freely roam and graze in Kiyikoy’s forest for most of the year. When Petrofac was carrying out onsite excavation work, water buffalo would often end up swimming in the foundations after it rained. So, we created artificial wallowing holes outside of the site for them to bathe in. High fences were then also built to prevent the animals from wandering onto the site.
There was only one road in, and one road out, of the village and a project of this scale generates a lot of traffic – on average three trucks per minute were arriving onsite at peak. To prevent disruption, Petrofac built an 8 km bypass for heavy load traffic. The safety of all people and animals was also prioritised: speed limits were enforced; temporary animal barriers were installed; and a traffic safety awareness programme was carried out in the local community.
A reservoir supplying the entire city of Istanbul – which has a population of 15 million people – can be found near the terminal, so it was essential to monitor various surface water and groundwater locations throughout the construction phase. Cleaning stations were dotted around the site to clean tracks and prevent mud and dirt contaminating water, and special barricades prevented any spillages into streams.
Employing the local community
There’s no doubt a workforce of 2,500 people descending on a small village of 1,900 people could have disrupted the local community. However, despite initial opposition to the project, the community slowly came round. Petrofac directly employed around 87 locals in jobs such as security, and they remain employed onsite today. The team helped out in the local community too, for instance providing equipment to fix roads, and supported businesses such as restaurants and hotels.
So, what’s our legacy? “We improved 16 km of existing road and tracks, including a bypass to the village,” says Project Manager Federico Peccolo. “Local people remain employed at the receiving terminal in jobs like security. There was good collaboration between locals and the project team, and whenever they had any concerns, they were promptly addressed.”
Shipwrecks, monasteries and fortresses
Turkey, the Black Sea and Kiyikoy, are rich in history and archaeological treasures. There is little oxygen and no bacteria below depths of around 100-200 metres in the Black Sea, meaning that shipwrecks and other archaeological items remain remarkably well preserved. More than 16,500 km of surveys of the seabed were carried out to find the best route. Back onshore, near the receiving terminal, there are several archaeological sites of note which were left untouched, including a Byzantine-era monastery named after St Nicholas and unusual in that it’s cut into the side of a rock.
Back to the way it was
While the plant may now be operational, it’s not the end of the environmental work. Initiatives to reinstate the ground and natural habitat around the site are well underway. All temporary construction areas and the workers’ camp have been re-vegetated with indigenous grasses and shrubs. Before construction started, topsoil was stockpiled for reinstatement work including the pipeline corridor. This was built at the very north end of Selves Beach, in an enclosed area separate from the main beach, and will also be restored to its previous condition.
An area of 119 ha will be reforested in three regions of Turkey, approximately three times the area of forest taken by the project area.