Turkey Energy Minister Yildiz Tanner says his country will continue to buy Iran’s crude oil unless new supply sources are found to substitute the Iranian crude.
“It is out of the question for us to stop buying oil from Iran unless the supply is replaced,” the minister told reports at an energy conference in Ankara on Wednesday.
Tanner added that Turkey could still get a waiver from sanctions, which the United States plans to implement on countries buying oil from Iran, despite not being named on a list of exempted nations released by Washington yesterday.
“Turkey’s absence from the United States waiver list regarding the Iran issue doesn’t mean it will not be included,” he said.
On Tuesday, the United States exempted 11 nations including 10 European Union (EU) members and Japan from tough new sanctions on Iran as they have reduced oil purchase from Tehran, The Guardian reported.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement on Tuesday that the exemption covers financial institutions from 11 nations – Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
Tanner stated that Turkey imports around 200,000 barrels per day of oil from Iran, representing over 7 percent of Iran’s oil exports. He emphasized that his country will continue to buy oil from Iran until existing contracts expire.
Turkey has struck a new contract to buy oil from Libya, and has held inconclusive talks over the possibility of buying from Saudi Arabia.
The country’s sole refiner Tupras, a unit of Koc Holding, is the main customer for Iranian crude. It buys some 30 percent of its crude oil from Iran and has a 9 million ton annual purchase contract.
Koc Energy Group Chairman Erol Memioglu told reporters last month that Tupras’ existing oil contract with Iran ends in August.
The US and EU have imposed tough financial and oil sanctions against Iran since the beginning of 2012 to penalize other countries for buying Iranian crude or doing business with its central bank, claiming that the country’s nuclear energy program includes a military component.
Tehran refutes their claims noting that frequent inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency have failed to prove any diversion in Iran’s nuclear energy program toward military purposes.