Turkey has closed its ports to Iranian oil, fully complying with US sanctions against its main supplier, despite Ankara publicly criticizing the United States’ move to end import waivers and warning of a struggle to tap alternative producers, Reuters reported.
The US decision to fully re-impose sanctions on Iranian oil ended a six-month reprieve for Turkey and seven other big importers as Washington steps up attempts to isolate Iran and choke off its oil revenues.
An American military presence in the region has also raised concerns over a potential US-Iran conflict.
Full compliance allows Turkey to avoid US sanctions even as its ties with the NATO ally are strained on several other fronts, including over the planned purchase of a Russian missile defense system that would trigger separate US penalties.
Turkey’s largest oil refiner Tüpraş had pressed Washington for an extension of the import waiver before the May 1 expiration, according to a person familiar with the talks, adding that when it was not granted the company made clear it would halt all imports from Iran.
According to Refinitiv tracking data, no tankers loaded in Iran have arrived at Turkish ports so far in this month.
Four days after the waiver ended, a tanker carrying 130,000 tons of Iranian crude was midway across the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey when it changed course and turned off its tracker, Refinitiv oil analyst Ehsan ul-Haq said. Analysts, citing satellite imagery, said it likely unloaded instead at the Syrian port of Banias.
Data show that Turkey began trimming its Iranian imports as early as March. Analysts said it has replaced the oil from its neighbor with oil from Iraq, Russia and Kazakhstan.