Turkey’s top refinery in talks with US for Iran sanctions waiver: Sources

Turkey’s top refinery in talks with US for Iran sanctions waiver: Sources

WASHINGTON - Reuters
Turkey’s top refinery in talks with US for Iran sanctions waiver: Sources

Turkey’s top refiner, Tüpraş, is in talks with U.S. officials to obtain a waiver allowing it to keep buying Iranian oil after Washington reinstates sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s energy sector in November, industry sources said.

The United States is preparing to impose the new sanctions on Iran’s oil industry after Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal between Tehran and other global powers earlier this year, but is also considering offering waivers to some allies that rely on Iranian supplies.

NATO member Turkey depends heavily on imports to meet its energy needs and neighboring Iran has been one of its main sources of oil because of its proximity, the quality of its crude, and favorable price differentials.

Turkey has already made efforts to cut its purchases ahead of the U.S. sanctions, but would prefer to keep up some level of Iranian oil imports past November, an industry source familiar with the matter said.

“They would like to be able to continue importing 3-4 cargoes a month, like they did during the previous sanctions round. But if the U.S. would tell them to stop, they will oblige and work towards achieving that,” the source said.

A Tüpraş spokeswoman was not available for comment. Turkey’s Energy Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Turkey imported around 97,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil in August and 133,000 bpd in September, compared with just over 240,000 bpd in April, tanker tracking and shipping data showed.

And in the first two weeks of October, Turkey has purchased three 1 million barrel-cargoes of Iranian oil - a level that would equate to about 97,000 bpd if it made no other purchases this month.

Asked if Washington was negotiating with Turkey for a waiver, a State Department official said the department was prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis.

On Oct. 15, Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative on Iran, did not comment directly about any talks on waivers with Turkey. But he told reporters countries seeking sanctions relief must “explain their specific and unique circumstances.”

Hook said those conversations were private, but he added the State Department was “trying to advance our national security goals and also taking into account the needs of our allies and partners around the world.”

Refiners around the world are under pressure to avoid Iranian oil purchases because they want to maintain their access to the U.S. financial system - something they could lose if they flout the U.S. sanctions.

Indian refiners also cut imports of Iranian oil purchases last month in a sign they are preparing for November.

During 2017, Iran was Turkey’s top crude oil source, accounting for 11.5 million tons of its total purchases nearing 26 million tons, followed by Iraq and Russia.

Tupras, Iranian oil, US sanctions