LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Turkey's imports of Iranian crude
oil have been holding steady at around 100,000 barrels per day
from September to December, data from a shipping source and
Reuters AIS Live showed.
Turkey's sole refiner Tupras received two Iranian
crude cargoes of 145,000 tonnes and one of 140,000 tonnes at the
Tutunciftlik import terminal in December. None went to the
country's other import terminal Aliaga.
November saw two cargoes go to Tutunciftlik and one to
Aliaga, while October had three cargoes delivered to
Tutunciftlik. Turkish official trade data pegged October imports
lower at around 75,000 bpd.
The volume is nearly half of its 2011 pre-sanction average
of around 180,000 bpd. Turkey sharply increased its Iranian oil
buys after sanctions were initially announced before reducing
them in the months up to July to secure a sanctions waiver from
the United States. Imports peaked at around 250,000-280,000 bpd
in early 2012.
Western nations have imposed a raft of sanctions on Iran
aimed at hampering the country's finances to prevent it from
developing an atomic bomb, while Tehran says its nuclear
activities are peaceful.
Turkey was granted an initial waiver on Iranian oil by the
United States for 180 days from June 11 after Ankara made an
initial 20 percent import cut before sanctions came into effect.
The exemption was renewed in early December for another 180
Most of the crude oil delivered in November and December
arrived directly from Iran via the Suez Canal using various
Iranian National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) tankers, mainly
flagged in Tanzania.
In earlier months, the crude was only lifted from the
Egyptian port of Sidi Kerir, the end of the Sumed pipeline
linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Iran's Blossom tanker,
also known as Baikal, would go back and forth between Egypt and
The European Union oil embargo, which came into full force
on July 1, also targeted the region's marine insurance sector,
which effectively cut off the usual avenues for tanker insurance
for Iran's remaining buyers, mainly South Korea, Japan, China,
India and Turkey.
State owned Tupras' imports initially sank in July when the
country was unable to insure its own tankers to lift Iranian
crude. The country had to switch to Iranian-owned oil tankers,
which raises questions over safety.
Turkey has been lifting Iraqi, Kazakh, Russian and Saudi
crude to replace the missing Iranian oil.
Imports are steady for now but fresh U.S. sanctions could
further complicate Iran's oil exports as a provision due to come
into effect on Feb. 6 will make it difficult for buyers to pay
Iranian oil lifters have been using elaborate mechanisms
through various countries and banks to pay Iran's national oil
company. But from February, any bank that repatriates the money
or transfers it to a third country will risk breaching
The new provision will hit India and Japan, particularly,
while South Korea and China already have mounting debts to Iran.
As the flow of petrodollars slows, barter could become the main
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)