Oil Co. Beefs Up Bunkering Capabilities in Turkey

By MarEx 2013-09-18 08:52:00

Azerbaijan's state oil company Socar is boosting its position in the Mediterranean oil products market after opening the first bunkering hub in Iskenderun Bay, a major port on Turkey's Mediterranean Coast.

Socar began ship refuelling operations for the first time on Tuesday out of the Delta Rubis terminal to supply crude oil tankers moving around the Ceyhan oil port as well as for dry cargo vessels.

"Ceyhan is the second place where Socar is acting as a physical supplier," Zeki Tarakçi, head of Socar Marine, said on Wednesday.

"We are the sole supplier now. Yesterday was the first day and in two months we will start with other products like gasoil."

The Azeri company will be supplied in a first instance from Greece's refineries as well as from Israel's refinery at Haifa, Tarakçi said.

The move into bunkering is part of a wider Socar initiative to gain a foothold in Turkey's booming fuel market and take advantage of its key position in the east Mediterranean as a secure transit route for many energy products.

"This was the second stage, the third stage will be once we finish building our refinery in Turkey at Aliaga," he said.

Earlier this year, Socar said its $5 billion refinery project with Turcas Petrol would start operations in mid-2017.

Socar will be competing with major bunkering hubs like neighbouring Limassol in Cyprus but also Malta, Gibraltar, Rotterdam and in Suez.

"Limassol is quite expensive compared to other places so we'll add competition on pricing," Tarakçi said.

Socar has secured a storage capacity of 630,000 cubic meters at Delta Rubis, which will be increased to 1 million cubic meters.

Socar Marine started a small bunkering operation in June at several ports in the Marmara Sea, in the Turkish Straits, and aims to become the leader in the area over the next three years. They use 10 bunker barges with a capacity of 5,000 tonnes each.

Reporting by Julia Payne; editing by Ron Askew (C) Reuters 2013.