Iran's oil minister to visit Turkey, meet officials

ANKARA Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:49am EDT

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi talks to journalist during a news conference in Tehran February 4, 2012. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi talks to journalist during a news conference in Tehran February 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Raheb Homavandi

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran is expected to try to revive demand for its oil in Turkey, its biggest European customer, this week when, according to Turkish energy ministry officials, its oil minister is to meet with Turkish officials in Ankara.

Iranian oil minister Rostam Qasemi is expected to meet Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz on Thursday to discuss supplying oil and gas to one of Europe's fastest growing economies, the officials said.

Tehran has struggled to find new buyers for its barrels after U.S. and European Union sanctions succeeded in halving Iran's global oil exports in the four months from February to June.

Non-EU Turkey, which imported around 200,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude in 2011, also sharply reduced shipments earlier this year to win a waiver from U.S. sanctions that allows it to continue purchasing Iranian crude through the second half of 2012.

A National Iranian Tanker Company oil tanker called the Valor, is expected to arrive in Turkey on Tuesday, according to ship tracking data on Reuters.

Iranian exports have declined steadily from the 2.2 million bpd average in 2011 as oil buyers have cut imports to comply with U.S. and European Union sanctions imposed to try to stop the country's nuclear program, which western governments say includes atomic weapons.

Iran says its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Turkey also imports gas from Iran, but despite its huge gas reserves, Iran's voracious appetite for its own gas has limited its export potential and forced it to import the heating fuel during the winter from Turkmenistan.

Iranian energy officials say that increased production from the South Pars gas field, which it shares with Qatar, could enable the country to boost exports.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun, additional reporting and writing by Daniel Fineren; Editing by Jane Baird)

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