Turkish imports of Iranian crude oil have fallen to their lowest level in July since the European Union and United States decided to widen sanctions against Iran, shipping data showed.
Turkey's sole refiner, Tupras, has been forced to lift even less Iranian oil than it had itself promised to the West as EU measures have stopped European firms, which dominate the marine insurance sector, from offering cover on Iranian crude, Reuters reported.
The EU oil embargo took effect from July 1. The United States granted Turkey a 180-day exception from sanctions from June 11 as a result of an initial 20 percent cut made by Tupras.
July imports fell to around 70,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from about 110,000 bpd in June. Only two 150,000 tonne cargoes of Iranian crude discharged at one of Turkey's two import terminals, Tutunciflik.
The volume is only 40 percent of Turkey's 2011 average of 180,000 bpd and a huge slump from 250,000-280,000 bpd Turkey imported during some months in early 2012.
Turkey ultimately switched to using Iranian-owned tankers to pick up crude accumulating at the Egyptian port of Sidi Kerir, the end of the Sumed pipeline, an alternative route for crude oil coming from the Arab Gulf into the Mediterranean.
Tupras has been compensating for the lower Iranian volumes with Russian and Iraqi medium sour grades as well as Nigerian and Libyan light sweets.
The Western sanctions aim to stifle Tehran's finances to prevent it from developing an atomic bomb, while Tehran says its nuclear activities are peaceful.