Natural gas and crude to dominate Turkey-Iran ties

Crude and natural gas are crucial to Turkey’s economy. US sanctions threaten Turkish interests. © Ramsey Martin

Natural gas continues to play a significant role in Turkey-Iran relations despite threats from U.S. President Donald Trump that it will not allow any country to do business with America if it continues to maintain trade ties with Iran.

Turkey, a NATO member, has stated it will continue to buy the same from Iran, in line with its long-term supply contract. Iran is a key supplier for Ankara’s natural gas and oil demands. A complete halt in trading relations with Iran is not workable.

In an interview to broadcaster A Haber, Turkey’s energy Minister Fatih Donmez stated, he expects Ankara oil and natural gas related talks with Washington to yield a positive outcome.

“A delegation of ours is in the United States right now and negotiations are being held on a series of matters including the sanctions issue,” said Donmez to A Haber. “I think a good outcome will emerge from this dialogue.”

According to Donmez, Turkey and Iran have a long term supply contract which goes upto 2026 and Ankara will continue to buy the 9.5 billion cubic meter of Iranian crude and natural gas as per the contracted amout. “We will be continuing this trade as we can’t possibly leave our citizens in dark,” said Donmez.

Almost 40% of Turkey’s electricity production is based on natural gas.

Despite these posturings, Tupras, the country’s biggest oil importer, has cut back the purchase of Iranian crude since May 2018 and according to analysts, in the coming months Tupras is likely to stick to lower volumes

Ankara is clearly not amused by U.S. sanctions on Iran, which Donmez described as “unilateral”. Crude and natural gas are crucial to Turkey’s economy.

“Even European Union (EU) is extremely annoyed by this. We are conducting legitimate trade here,” he said. “And this is important for us in terms of supply security as well.”

Trump has largely ignored pleas from other co-sponsorers of the landmark 2015 Iran agreement, including those from Washington’s principle allies, including France, Germany and Britain as well as other world powers such as China and Russia.