Iranian Crude Supply to Turkey May Be Halted by Western Bank Sanctions
Friday, 24 February 2012 | 12:22
Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS (HALKB), the Turkish bank that handles payments for Iranian oil, will stop processing transactions for supplies into Turkish refineries from July amid tightening Western sanctions against the Persian Gulf state.
Tupras Turkiye Petrol Rafinerileri AS (TUPRS), which operates four refineries, won’t be able to use the bank from the end of June unless it gets a U.S. waiver, a Tupras official said today, declining to be identified citing company policy. State-run Halk complies with all international regulations and standard practices on Iran, an official at the Ankara-based lender said by phone today, declining to be named for the same reason.
Global refiners are working to ensure supplies of crude amid concern that tensions between the West and Iran may disrupt deliveries. Cia. Espanola de Petroleos SA, Spain’s second- largest refiner, last week secured a guarantee for more crude from the United Arab Emirates if Iranian exports are cut.
“The situation for Iran is getting worse and worse as U.S. sanctions prevent trade in food, medicine and oil,” said Manouchehr Takin, an analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London. “The Iranians will find ways to get around it, but it is sad that legitimate trade has become a tool for politicians. This is the arm twisting of the 21st century.”
Brent crude in London is trading at a nine-month high amid concern that sanctions against Iran may lead to a reduction in supply. The contract for April delivery advanced as much as $1.60, or 1.3 percent, to $124.50 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange, the highest since May 4. It was at $122.44 a barrel as of 3:02 p.m. London time.
More Saudi Crude
India, home of the world’s largest refining complex operated by Reliance Industries Ltd., wants to buy more crude from Saudi Arabia from 2013, R.P.N. Singh, the country’s junior oil minister, said today in New Delhi. Indian refiners, who also use Halk bank for their purchases, have been told that these services may soon be terminated, four people with knowledge of the matter said Jan. 10. Halk is the only bank that Turkey uses for payments of crude.
U.S. sanctions against financial institutions that deal with Iran take effect at the end of June, while the EU plans to ban imports of Iranian oil from the beginning of July.
Tupras, owned by Koc Holding AS (KCHOL), has a contract to buy 9 million metric tons of crude a year from Iran. The deal for the supply of 180,000 barrels a day, signed in August, runs for a year, the company said Dec. 22. The company’s refineries have a combined processing capacity of 564,000 barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Turkish government is asking for the refiner’s Iranian business with the bank to be exempt from U.S. sanctions, the Tupras official said today.
Seeking alternative supply, the refiner has increased purchases from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, he said. The refiner agreed about two months ago to buy one million tons of crude from Libya for a year, Erol Memioglu, head of Koc’s energy division, said on Feb. 15. Tupras continues to buy crude from Iran as there aren’t any sanctions yet and oil imports from other countries “could be more expensive,” Memioglu said.
Turkey was the sixth-largest importer of Iranian crude during the first half of 2011, buying 182,000 barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The five biggest were China, Japan, India, South Korea and Italy. Iran is the second- biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia.