According to oil merchants and shipping sources, adverse weather conditions are impeding loading operations at Turkey’s Ceyhan port, where the impact of Monday’s massive twin earthquakes is still being assessed.
On Monday, operations at the Ceyhan oil port were halted, a crucial center for the discharge of crude oil and oil products, as well as the loading of Azeri crude and a stream of Iraqi crude oil, following two earthquakes that devastated Turkey and Syria, killing over 5,000 people. Turkey has announced a three-month state of emergency in earthquake-affected areas.
The port’s damage is still being assessed. According to various maritime and trade sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, seasonal adverse weather conditions are currently hindering loadings.
Ceyhan port feeds state-owned refiner Tupras as well as Azerbaijani Socar’s Star refinery in Turkey. It also exports volumes of two crude oil streams: Azeri crude oil provided via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline consortium and Iraqi Kirkuk blend crude oil delivered via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline consortium. Loading of the two crude oil terminals occurs at two different places within Ceyhan port, with BTC crude oil departing from the BTC terminal and Kirkuk blend departing from the Botas terminal.
The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which transports Iraqi Kirkuk mix crude oil for seaborne export into the Mediterranean, had not resumed flows as of Tuesday morning, according to Lawk Ghafuri, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Ghafuri also stated that the pipeline was not damaged as a result of the tremors. According to an oil trade source familiar with KRG operations, the pipeline could start flowing later Tuesday.
A tanker ship is waiting to berth in order to load Kirkuk blend crude.
Three trading sources, who asked to remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak publicly about the situation, estimated that the BTC terminal could take longer to resume because local damage is still being assessed.
One trading source and one shipping source indicated a probable impact on a tank, though it was unclear whether any damage was sustained.
According to a Google translation, the Botas International firm, which operates the BTC pipeline segment that crosses Turkish territory, stated on Monday that no damage was observed on the oil pipeline at the time.
Socar, the state oil company of Azerbaijan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
At 15:54 GMT, the front-month Ice Brent contract for April delivery was trading at $82.25/bl, up $1.26/bl from the previous close price. The March Nymex WTI contract was trading at $75.66/bl, up $1.55/bl from the previous day’s settlement.