Exclusive: Urals oil supplies to Turkey jump in Feb as STAR refinery resumes Russian crude imports

The logo of Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR is seen on a board at the SPIEF 2017 in St. Petersburg
The logo of Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 (SPIEF 2017) in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 1, 2017. Picture taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
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MOSCOW, March 1 (Reuters) - Supplies of Russian flagship Urals crude oil to Turkey reached a four-month high in February after STAR refinery, owned by Azerbaijan's oil firm SOCAR, resumed purchases of the blend, data showed and four industry sources said on Wednesday.

Sea-borne Russian oil supplies are subject to an embargo by the European Union and the price is capped by the West to $60 per barrel over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Increase of Russian oil exports to Turkey, which Russia considers as a friendly country despite Ankara's NATO membership, may hinder the West's attempts aimed at crippling Kremlin's financial might and weakening its military efforts in Ukraine.

Russia's oil exports revenue is set to rise in March as falling freight rates and strong demand push Russian oil prices towards a $60 per barrel Western price cap.

According to Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking data, 860,000 tonnes of Urals crude were shipped to Turkish ports last month, up from 620,000 tonnes in January and 370,000 tonnes in December.

Supplies of Russian oil to the 200,000-barrel-per-day STAR refinery resumed in the end of January after a month-long hiatus and reached 100,000 tonnes in January and at least 300,000 tonnes in February, according to the data and industry sources.

SOCAR Trading, that manages supply of the refinery, declined to comment.

In 2022, when Europe drastically cut energy imports from Moscow, demand for Urals crude in Turkey was robust. Its peak supplies in August-October reached between 1.3 million tonnes and 1.4 million tonnes per month, including 700,000 tonnes a moth destined for STAR refinery.

Increase in Urals crude supplies to Turkey will likely bolster the price of the Russian blend, making India and China, which already saw record-high oil imports from Russia, compete for the Russian oil volumes with Turkey, traders said.

Moscow's oil export revenues fell by 40% year-on-year in January, Russia's finance ministry has said, as Russian crude was sold at discounts of $15-$20 per barrel to China, India and Turkey, and shipping it also cost $15-$20 per barrel.

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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