LONDON - Reuters
Turkey’s main crude refiner struggles to find insurers for ships carrying Iranian oil to Turkey, sources claim. Hürriyet photo
Turkey is struggling to import Iranian oil in July because of Western sanctions on ship insurance, trading and shipping sources told Reuters, leaving Tehran battling to sell oil now stuck in storage tanks in Egypt.
Turkey, which relies on Iran
for half its crude needs, has already cut imports of Iranian oil by a fifth from average levels of 2011 to win waivers from U.S. sanctions.
But volumes will now likely fall much steeper as Turkish main refiner Tüpraş cannot import Iranian oil on Turkish tankers after European Union
sanctions against Tehran stopped the region’s firms, which dominate the marine insurance sector, from offering cover on Iranian crude.
“Tüpraş was lifting Iranian crude with its own tankers up until July... This is no longer possible... They are now focusing more on lifting from Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq with its tankers,” said a Turkey-based shipping source.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told reporters on July 13 that Tüpraş’s crude purchases from Iran
were continuing without any problems, but gave no details. Tüpraş declined to comment.
Industry experts say the ship insurance ban has proved to be the hardest hitting in the West’s arsenal of sanctions aiming to persuade Iran, which relies on oil for more than half its budget revenues, to abandon its nuclear programme. Iran
denies its nuclear program is aimed at making weapons.
The lack of shipping cover has already disrupted flows of Iranian oil to Tehran’s major customers in Asia -- China, India, South Korea and Japan -- at a time when the EU has stopped buying its oil altogether.
The measures are costing Tehran over $3 billion a month as its crude exports are estimated to have halved to 1.1 million bpd in the past months.
Turkey, which is among Iran’s top five customers, is estimated to have imported around 160,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil in May. Of this amount, more than 100,000 bpd was brought in from the Egyptian port of Sidi Kerir on board Turkish tankers and the rest on Iranian tankers through the Suez Canal.
“They (Turkish ships) are told to avoid the Sidi Kerir route as much as possible,” the Turkish source said.
Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean coast is connected by Sumed pipeline to the Ain Sukhna terminal on the Gulf of Suez, bringing oil from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for European markets.
“We understand some 7 million barrels of Iranian oil is now available from Sidi Kerir and we are hearing offers to buy it,” one trading source said. Other trading sources confirmed they had seen several offers from little known traders.
Egyptian officials were not available to comment on stocks at Sidi Kerir.
Tüpraş, Opet being probed
ISTANBUL – Anatolia News Agency
Turkey’s new sweeping investment incentive has started to arouse interest from foreign investors after coming into force, the science, industry and technology minister has said.
One of the latest examples in this regard is an American
firm that is considering investments in solar panel systems and solar energy technology in the southern province of Kilis, Nihat Ergün said.
Several firms from Europe, the United States, South Korea and Japan are studying Turkey to make investments, he said, adding that the chairman of Caterpillar came to Turkey last week to look for Turkish partners for its investments.
The minister spoke at a meeting yesterday regarding the country’s presidency of EUREKA, an intergovernmental research and development body.