Turkey likely to hike tanker fees
Ankara, January 8, 2011
Turkey may introduce new fees on tankers carrying oil and other commodities through its straits to reduce traffic on the busy and environmentally sensitive waterways, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.
The government has said it wants to cut the amount of cargo travelling through its Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits, the only outlet to the world's oceans for Black Sea states, by 2013 or 2014. It has met international oil companies to urge them to back a planned pipeline to the Mediterranean.
Some 150 million tonnes of crude oil and petroleum products pass through the channels each year. The narrow Bosphorus bisects Istanbul, a city of 13 million people.'We cannot put Istanbul at risk like this,' Yildiz said at a news conference.
'We can create a high barrier for cargo transport. Raising the fees to cross the Bosphorus will ease things for Turkey, but it will raise costs for companies.'
The government could use the 1936 Montreux Convention, which authorises Turkey to regulate the straits, and force each ship that passes through to pay 'gold francs' - essentially taxes and charges for sanitary and safety precautions, he said.
Turkey now collects $150 million from oil tankers traversing its straits, which the country is obliged, under Montreux, to keep open to commercial ships during peacetime.-Reuters