A comprehensive analysis conducted by Reuters has determined that Turkey and Turkish enterprises have successfully achieved significant cost savings of approximately $2 billion in energy expenditures during 2023.
This commendable achievement has been made possible through the strategic decision to increase purchases of reduced Russian oil and refined goods. The calculations were derived from reliable data from the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) and estimations made by reputable traders.
It is noteworthy that despite the imposition of Western sanctions, the Turkish government remains steadfast in its intention to enhance its energy collaboration with Russia further, thereby reinforcing the mutually beneficial relationship between the two nations.
Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, several European countries decided to suspend a significant portion of their imports of Russian oil and gas. Consequently, Turkey emerged as the largest importer of Russian energy in the Western hemisphere.
China and India have demonstrated higher importation from Russia than Turkey. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that Ankara’s closeness to Russian ports has enabled it to achieve cost savings surpassing those of other buyers, owing to the availability of more economical freight options.
According to data from LSEG and Reuters calculations, the volume of Russian Urals crude oil transported to Turkey reached a record-breaking level of 400,000 barrels of crude per day (bpd) in November 2023. This significant increase accounted for approximately 14% of Russia’s total seaborne oil exports during the same month.
The Energy Ministry of the Russian Federation has not provided any official statement or comment on the matter at hand. The energy ministry of Turkey, as well as Turpas and STAR refiner, have yet to respond to the requests for comments.
According to trading sources, it is anticipated that there will be a notable increase in Turkey’s oil supply in the upcoming months. This projection is based on the recent agreement between Lukoil, a private Russian oil producer, and SOCAR, an Azeri firm. The deal entails refining Lukoil’s oil, with a capacity of up to 200,000 barrels per day, at SOCAR’s Turkish STAR refinery.
In addition to the notable increase in crude supplies, it is worth noting that Turkey experienced a substantial surge in its imports of various petroleum products from Russia. Specifically, the imports of diesel, oil for heating, jet fuel, and marine fuel witnessed a significant rise of 200% during the period spanning from January to November 2023. This surge resulted in an average daily import volume of approximately 0.29 million barrels.
According to data provided by LSEG and corroborated by industry experts, it has been observed that Russia has successfully delivered a substantial quantity of distillates to Turkey from January to November.
Specifically, 13 million tonnes of distillates were supplied, of which 8.6 million tonnes comprised extremely low sulfur diesel (ULSD 10ppm). This represents a significant increase compared to the corresponding period, 2022, where 4.3 million tonnes of distillates were delivered, with 3.2 million tonnes being ULSD.
It has been observed that Turkey has been procuring Russian diesel at a comparatively lower cost this year, with a price differential ranging from $25 to $150 per ton ($3.3-20 per barrel) in comparison to prices for equivalent scores in the Mediterranean region.
Traders in the industry have reported this information. Regarding pricing differentials, the crude oil in question exhibited a range of discounts from $5 to $20 per barrel. Reducing energy import costs has played a significant role in Ankara’s efforts to mitigate its trade deficit and alleviate the strain on its currency, which has experienced a depreciation of 30% thus far in the current year.
According to data from LSEG, Turkey has witnessed a significant surge in diesel exports during the period of January-November 2023. The export volume of diesel has experienced a remarkable growth of 120%, reaching 6.03 million tons compared to 2.75 million tons.
Several prominent activists and advocates for Ukraine have raised allegations against Turkey, asserting that the country is purportedly aiding Russia in circumventing sanctions by facilitating the transportation of its goods to Europe. The nation in question firmly refutes the allegations and asserts that it exports refined fuels derived from diverse sources of crude oil.
Sweetest Crude Oil
It is worth noting that Turkey is not the sole beneficiary of substantial cost reductions when procuring Russian oil.
India, a nation that has chosen not to align itself with the international sanctions imposed on Moscow, has witnessed a substantial surge in its imports of Russian oil, registering an impressive growth rate of 77% during the current year.
Based on an analysis of official government data, it has been determined that a substantial amount of approximately $2.7 billion has been conserved in the initial nine months of 2023 due to reduced expenditures on imports of Russian oil.
On the other hand, India exhibited a notable increase in the importation of Russian crude, amounting to a substantial volume of 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd). Consequently, the resulting per-barrel savings for Turkey were significantly elevated in comparison.
According to market analysts, there is a potential for significant cost savings in freight rates for transporting Russian oil to Turkey compared to India. Current estimates suggest that the expenses of bringing a tanker of Russian crude to Turkey amount to approximately $6 million, whereas the corresponding figure for India is around $9 million.
According to Viktor Katona, an analyst at Kpler, the imposition of Russian sanctions in February 2022 has resulted in Turkey’s refiners emerging as highly lucrative facilities within the Mediterranean region.
It has been observed that Tupras, the leading oil refiner in Turkey, has achieved a commendable gross profit margin of $30 per barrel during the previous year. This margin is notably $6 higher than the average margin observed for complex refineries in the Mediterranean region. Tupras, the Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation, made a statement.
The possibility of establishing a gas hub in Turkey is currently being deliberated between Moscow and Ankara in light of the significant reduction in Russian gas acquisitions by the European Union. The strategic plan aligns with Ankara’s longstanding aspiration to establish itself as a prominent energy distribution center for the southern European region.
The Russian government perceives the hub as a strategic mechanism to redirect its gas exports from Europe or engage in indirect gas sales within the European Union.