Turkey could increase its oil imports from Iran to 130,000-140,000 barrels per day (bpd), from around 105,000 bpd in a gradual manner, if Western sanctions against Iran ease, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said during a live interview on CNBC-e television yesterday, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
"We have already reduced our imports to around 105,000 [bpd] due to the sanctions. Once these sanctions are no longer in effect, I believe the amount we buy will hike," he said, adding that Turkey couldn't ignore Iran, which had one of the world's three largest oil reserves, and was Turkey's second biggest oil supplier after Russia.
Turkey cut dramatically its oil imports from Iran from a previously contracted volume of 180,000 bpd last year after a European Union embargo against Iran came into full force on July 1, which also targeted marine insurance.
Hard to match previous levels
Yildiz said Turkey has already rejected further reducing its oil imports from neighboring Iran.
"Although it is not possible to match the previous levels of imports, I believe our purchases from Iran could go up to 130,000 bpd or to 140,000 bpd," he said, adding that Turkey bought natural gas from five countries and oil from 12 countries.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and six western powers reached a historic deal on Nov. 24 to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for limited relief on sanctions. Iranian oil sales have fallen by more than half from 2011 levels to about 1 million barrels a day as a result of EU and U.S. sanctions on oil trade, shipping insurance and banking, according to Reuters data.
"The relief in EU sanctions on oil shipping insurance is a big deal and creates the conditions to make it easier for Iran to get at least up to the sanctioned levels," Olivier Jakob from Petromatrix energy consultancy told Reuters yesterday.
Brent crude fell 1.6 percent yesterday just after the deal, but Yildiz called for patience. "It is of great importance to be patient and cautious in making any comment on whether the recent nuclear deal with Iran will have an effect on oil prices," he noted.
Turkey is also importing 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year from Iran but would buy more if it were available, Yildiz said in an October briefing during the World Energy Congress in South Korea.
Turkey's energy demand has doubled in the last 10 years and would double again in the next decade, he said. Energy buying is the biggest contributor to Turkey's annual current account deficit of more than $50 billion.