Energy security is never guaranteed. This has become all the more apparent as states are increasingly looking abroad to meet their growing demand for such resources as oil & gas. Now there are a variety of factors that may jeopardize such ventures (political instability, accidents, competition etc.). Yet terrorism, as Turkey is experiencing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has become a genuine threat to the maintenance of energy security.
Apart from being a growing energy transit hub for Western Europe, Turkey currently purchases 98% of its natural gas and more than 90% of its crude oil from foreign producers. Being so reliant on foreign imports has an obvious drawback; energy infrastructure has become increasingly prone to attacks from non-state actors who seek to undermine Turkey’s energy security. Indeed, recent acts of sabotage on key oil & gas pipelines by the PKK, who wish to succeed from Turkey in order create an independent Kurdistan, has highlighted the vulnerability of facilities present in largely Kurdish areas.
PKK sabotage throughout July & August 2015 on the Iran-Turkey natural gas pipeline and the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline, to name but a few, has prompted Ankara to take action. In addition to horseback patrols, fixed infrared cameras are now also being placed at vulnerable points on key oil & gas pipelines to ensure their continued operation. Through the ability of infrared cameras to see individuals in all weather conditions, they may prove to be a decisive tool in helping alleviate PKK attacks on Turkey’s energy security.
An effective deterrent again PKK aggression would actually be no bad thing for the Kurdish Region. For because of the indiscriminate nature of PKK attacks, pipelines crucial to the revenue of the Kurdish Regional Government have also been sabotaged. For example, attacks after the July 27th on pipelines carrying crude oil from the Kurdistan Region to Ceyhan; Turkey is estimated to have cost the government around $250 million in loss revenue. These funds, equivalent to the monthly budget for the salaries of the entire Kurdistan Region’s security forces, are desperately needed at a time when the Kurds are required to combat the significant threat of Islamic State.