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Turkish gasoline sales to Iran soared amid new UN sanctions

HDN | 8/11/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Bloomberg photo

ANKARA - Bloomberg

Turkey’s gasoline sales to Iran jumped to 52,000 barrels a day in June, official statistics show, as other suppliers were pulling back amid a new round of sanctions against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

Sales of gasoline from Turkey to Iran in June were almost five times as large as the average 10,120 barrels a day that Turkey sold its eastern neighbor during the first half of the year, the Ankara-based state statistics office said on Wednesday in response to questions from Bloomberg.

This increase in Turkish fuel sales coincided with a fourth set of sanctions that the United Nations Security Council imposed on Iran June 9 because of the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear program. The U.S. introduced measures on July 1 targeting foreign suppliers of gasoline and blocking access to the American financial system for banks doing business in Iran. The European Union on July 26 banned investment and sales of equipment to Iranian oil and natural-gas industries.

Sanctions are pushing Iran to buy the fuel from China and Russia while hurting refiners in Europe and India. These latest data verify that Turkey too is selling to Iran. Venezuela, another supplier, began to send 20,000 barrels a day of gasoline to Iran in January, Petroleos de Venezuela SA vice president Asdrubal Chavez said in Caracas on Feb. 10.

Iran paid $121.8 million for 187.4 million liters of 95- octane gasoline that it bought from Turkey in June, the state statistics office said. Iran’s total bill for Turkish gasoline over the first six months was $146.7 million, for 219.9 million liters. Iran depends on imported fuel for as much as 40 percent of its domestic needs.

[HH] No comment

Yavuz Erkut, chief executive of Turkey’s only refiner, Tüpraş Türkiye Petrol Rafinerileri AS, declined to comment when asked on July 12 if his company was continuing to sell gasoline to Iran.

Small quantities of Turkish gasoline may also be trickling into Iran from the neighboring Kurdish region of northern Iraq, said Mehmet Salih Kızıl, deputy chairman of Turkey’s Kızıl Group, a fuel transportation company based in Turkey’s southeastern city of Gaziantep.

Iran imported about 60,000 barrels of gasoline a day last month, compared with 120,000 in May, according to Energy Markets Consultants Ltd., a unit of the Singapore-based Facts Global Energy, which provides data to the U.S. Energy Department.

Turkey’s exports to Iran of chemicals which include gasoline jumped by an annualized 155 percent in the first seven months of the year to $357 million, the Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters’ Association said separately on Tuesday.

Exports of fuel and lubricants surged to $173 million in the January-to-July period from less than $1 million in the same period last year, the association said in an e-mailed statement.

The UN, U.S. and EU stiffened sanctions against Iran after diplomatic efforts last year failed to halt the country’s efforts to enrich uranium. Enriched uranium can be used to produce fuel or make a nuclear bomb. Iran says it seeks nuclear energy for civilian purposes only.

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