Turkish refiner Tupras plans to cut its dependence on imports of Iranian oil and will meet Saudi Arabian authorities this month, industry sources familiar with the company's strategy said on Thursday, as Western powers crack down on Iran's oil sales.
Turkey imports more than 30% of its daily consumption from Iran and has so far given no indication that it will comply with a planned European Union import embargo on Iranian crude.
- 'Sanctions not only option against Iran'
- US: International pressure affecting Iran
- Iran warns region against 'dangerous' stance on Hormuz
But one of the sources said that Iranian threats to shut down the world's most important oil export route, the Strait of Hormuz, had helped push Turkish oil officials to try to reduce the country's heavy dependence on Iran's oil.
Iran has made no move to shut the world's most important oil export route, which had a daily flow of almost 17 million barrels last year, but has threatened action if Europe implements new sanctions. Another of the sources said Tupras officials were planning to meet Saudi Arabian oil authorities this month, with a view to switching to alternative sources of crude by the summer.
Iranian oil rig (Archives: EPA)
Tupras, Turkey's largest petrochemical company, declined an immediate comment.
"I think the meeting is to learn the supply capacity ahead of (state oil company Saudi) Aramco's other clients," said the first source, adding that other oil producing countries would also be contacted. "I don't think Saudi can cover all of the import requirements. You must consider demands made by China, Korea, India, Japan also," he said
"Maybe at most, half of its Iran imports may be substituted," he estimated.
A Saudi source said the kingdom's oil authorities were getting more orders to replace Iranian crude but declined to comment on specific requests.
The first source said Turkey was also planning to meet with oil suppliers from Russia, Azerbaijan and West Africa.
According to sources familiar with the Russian oil market, Turkey has begun to show an increased interest in its crude supplies.
"Tupras has been recently buying more Urals. I guess right now everyone is trying to diversify from Iran one way or another," one trader said.
Reuters and AFP contributed to this report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop