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Turkey Tightens Control On Gas Cylinders to Curb Terrorism

Turkey

Liquefied gas cylinders are a common household fixture in some parts of the world. They are a convenient way of getting natural or petroleum gas for cooking purposes and for heating a house without a gas pipeline network.

Liquefied gas cylinders, however, can also be used to make bombs.

Turkey has been having growing problems with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a militant movement against Turkish control of Kurdistan, which Ankara considers a terrorist group and outlawed long ago. Some of these problems come in the form of home-made bombs, in which liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders and ammonium nitrate are used.

Since a bomb can be made with readily available products such as ammonium nitrate, which is widely used as fertilizer, the Turkish government has now stepped up its efforts to curb such activities by installing stricter regulations.

Early this month, the Turkish Agriculture Ministry had to resort to a suspension of fertilizer sales after two consecutive car-bomb incidents that happened over two days in different parts of the country – Istanbul and Mardin – killed 16 people. The temporary suspension came on top of measures that were already in place, aimed at limiting terrorist access to the explosive materials. These include randomly putting tracking chips in packs of ammonium nitrite-containing fertilizer, restricting the retail sale of such fertilizers to those with an ammonium nitrate content of no more than 28 percent in unpacked form, and using drones to monitor fertilizer use and imports. Related: Can The Natural Gas Rally Continue?

LPG cylinders are the second priority of this concerted government effort to deal with homemade bombs. First, in early June, the PM’s press office announced that the sales and use of 12-kg propane cylinders will be closely monitored and inspected. Tools include online tracking of consumption, QR codes and serial numbers, and tracking the imports of LPG cylinders. Smaller gas containers used in camping, as well as industrial-grade cylinders, will also be monitored in some way, with specific monitoring mechanisms soon to be announced.

Last week, the government announced further planned precautions with respect to gas cylinders. Now users will not be able to get a new LPG cylinder without first returning their empty one. There are also sanctions for companies that keep a stock of more gas cylinders than they strictly need, according to the plans that are being discussed by the Energy Market Regulatory Authority and the Science, Industry and Technology Ministry. Plans also include an electronic system to track and monitor data about the cylinders.

The measures are very practical, and they will inevitably fail – terrorists can always find an alternative to one kind of bomb. The root of the problem, namely the Kurds’ desire for independence, is not being addressed and it is unlikely that it ever will be while Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is in power, following his vision of a Greater Turkey.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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