Smuggled Syria fuel ‘hit’ Turkish market

Smuggled Syria fuel ‘hit’ Turkish market

Merve Erdil ISTANBUL
Smuggled Syria fuel ‘hit’ Turkish market

Turkish authorities seize tons of fuel at Syrian border provinces but security weaknesses allow smugglers to bring Syrian fuel thorugh illegal means. DHA photo

Large amounts of fuel that is being smuggled from civil war-hit Syria will slow the Turkish fuel market’s growth by 1.5 to 3 points, BP Turkey Manager Martin Thomsen has said, warning against the threats from increasing smuggling.

“The smuggled fuel coming from Syria has begun to affect us adversely since the beginning of April,” Thomsen said in a meeting with energy correspondents late on July 7.

He said the market growth, which is expected to be around 4 to 4.5 percent for the year end, will be 1.5 to 3 points less than initial estimates due to problems arising from the illegal trade from Syria, the country which Turkey shares a border of more than 900 kilometers.

“Fuel sales have remarkably dropped, particularly in southern [Turkish] provinces,” according to the BP manager.

However, illegal sales extend beyond border provinces, even reaching the Central Anatolian province of Konya, Thomsen said, warning that the presence of smuggled fuel in the Turkish market had come to alarming levels. “The market has been affected in a triangle-shaped region up to Central Anatolia,” he said.

The total volume of smuggled fuel from Syria has reached around 500,000 tons, sector sources estimate, while the size of the entire gasoline market is expected to be around 17.5 to 18 million tons.

Thomsen said licensed distributors sell a liter of gasoline at 4.5 liras, but motorists can find gasoline at 1.1 liras per liter at the Syrian border and 1.8 liras in Konya.

This phenomenon has caused unfair competition in the market as well as a huge tax loss, he said, calling for authorities to ramp up security measures at border posts.