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Turkey Says It Cannot Replace Iranian Oil, Asks For Sanctions Exemption

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif give a press conference in Ankara, April 17, 2019

As the full implementation of U.S. oil sanctions start Thursday, Turkey is asking for an extension of the six-month exemption it had from Washington, claiming it is not easy to replace Iranian oil.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey is not able to easily diversify its oil imports as its refineries are calibrated for intake of oil produced by Iran. Cavusoglu speaking at a news conference in Istanbul asked the U.S. to reconsider its decision to end exemptions or waivers it had offered in November.

Cavusoglu visited Iraq on April 28-29 to discuss oil, among other issues, but it is not clear if any purchase deals were made.

After reimposing sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, the United States offered temporary waivers to eight friendly countries to continue buying limited amounts of oil from Iran, but last week Washington announced it will not renew the exemptions.

While Japan, India and South Korea have already phased out Iranian oil imports, it is not clear what the biggest client, China will do. Turkey was another beneficiary of the expired waivers.

Since the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, Iran has been hit hard by an economic and financial crisis as more than $20 billion of its oil income has steadily declined.

Reporting by Reuters