Turkey said on Friday, March 30 it will cut imports of oil from Iran by a tenth, ceding to U.S. pressure a week after Washington warned Tehran’s customers they could incur U.S. sanctions unless they significantly reduce purchases, Reuters reported.
Pressure from Washington and Brussels, which will slap a EU-wide embargo on Iranian oil from July as part of a campaign against Tehran’s nuclear program, has led to a rally in oil prices this year as markets fear supply shortages.
The West’s energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency, has warned that Iran might have to halve its exports by around 1 million barrels per day later this year because of the EU embargo and as its four biggest customers – China, India, Japan and South Korea – are also cutting imports.
Turkey, the fifth largest buyer of Iranian oil, had previously refrained from committing to lower imports, saying it had long-established relations with its neighbor Iran and was too dependent on its oil.
Its statement on Friday effectively leaves China as the only country that has yet to commit officially to cutting imports in a move that would potentially further squeeze Tehran’s stretched finances, which rely heavily on oil revenues.
Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Friday the country would reduce purchases by around 10 percent and Turkey’s sole refiner Tupras, a unit of Koc Holding, said it would cut imports by 20 percent.
“We plan to increase the number and the route of countries we buy oil from,” Yildiz said, adding Turkey will partly replace the oil with 1 million tonnes it expects to buy from Libya.
The country is also in talks with Saudi Arabia on spot oil purchases and longer term contacts, he added.
Turkey imports around 200,000 barrels per day of oil from Iran, representing 30 percent of its total imports and more than 7 percent of Iran’s oil exports.