Turkish Press. A diesel oil-laden tanker ran aground early Friday in the Dardanelles Strait, forcing Turkish authorities to shut the narrow waterway to maritime traffic, according to the Anatolia news agency.
The 189-meter (620-foot) tanker lost its rudder while sailing through one of the narrowest points of the Dardanelles, which, with the Bosphorus, links the Black Sea to the Aegean. (See map to right. Click to enlarge.)
The vessel, en route from the Ukraine to Italy, drifted out of control for some time before it was beached by the coastal pilot on board as it was about to crash into a dock in Kilitbahir [Kilid Bahr], on the historical Gallipoli peninsula.
Increasing traffic through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles of oil and gas tankers has forced Turkey to step up safety measures and impose restrictions, which drew protests from several countries, particularly Russia.
The US Energy Information Agency considers these two waterways, which are among the busiest in the world, and the only outlet for Black Sea countries to the Mediterranean and beyond, as one of several global strategic chokepoints for the shipment of oil and gas.
Some 3.0 million barrels of oil per day (mostly crude oil with several hundred thousand barrels per day of products as well) transshipped through the straights southward from the Black Sea to markets in Western and Southern Europe in 2003.
According to the EIA:
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).
No word on how long traffic will be halted, although since the tanker appears not to be damaged or leaking, it sounds like the situation will be resolved fairly quickly. A prolonged blockage of the Bosphorus or Dardanelles would be one of those “disruptions” that would send the oil markets racing upward, given that there is no spare capacity.