Turkey's crude oil import profile is set for major changes this year following the re-imposition of US sanctions against its main crude supplier, Iran, coupled with the commissioning of Socar's new 214,000 bpd STAR refinery.
Expected to reach nameplate capacity this year, STAR will boost Turkey's crude imports by 40% and, with Iranian oil exports sidelined, the country will need more crude from alternative producers, Platts reported.
Where this crude will come from is far from clear.
For the past decade, Turkey's sole existing refiner, Tupras, whose three refineries process 540,000 bpd of imported crude combined, has been largely dependent on Iran and Iraq.
OPEC's number two and three producers collectively have supplied 83% of crude Turkey has imported since the start of 2013, with most of the remainder sourced from a handful of other suppliers.
Turkey has been granted a 180-day waiver by the US to continue Iranian imports but is obliged to "greatly reduce" volumes. To what extent is unclear, as is whether the waiver applies only to just Tupras or also to STAR.
The previous US sanctions regime allowed Tupras to continue importing Iranian crude under its long-term purchase agreement, at a 20% reduction and on condition that payment remained banked at Turkey's state-owned Halkbank.