STAR Refinery, Turkey's biggest refinery and operator SOCAR Turkey's biggest investment at a cost of $6.3 billion, started operations on Friday.
For the start of operations, the refinery's first crude oil cargo ship named Absheron was loaded with 80,000 tons of feedstock and arrived at the STAR refinery facility located on a 2,400-hectare site on the Aliaga Peninsula in Izmir from Azerbaijan.
During the opening ceremony of the facility, SOCAR Turkey's CEO Zaur Gahramanov hailed Turkey as one of the strategic countries for foreign investments for SOCAR, the parent company and state oil company of Azerbaijan.
Gahramanov said that SOCAR has already invested $19 billion in Turkey, and added that; "the refinery will help Turkey decrease its annual foreign trade by around $1.5 billion."
Further elaborating on SOCAR's operations in Turkey, he said that even though many consider the company a "foreign" investor, he said "we don't see ourselves as foreigners in Turkey because of the great support from the Turkish government."
He said that thanks to this support, SOCAR was able to realize the mega refinery project.
Mesut Ilter, STAR Refinery general manager, confirmed that first crude oil arrived from Azerbaijan, and announced that later in October, operations will start to bring the refinery into service in phased stages.
"Crude oil from the Middle East, Russia and North Africa will be processed and refined in the facility," he said.
In 2018, refining of around 2 million tons of crude oil is expected at the refinery, which will increase to 10 million tons of crude at full capacity.
According to the official website of Turkey's leading petrochemical company, PETKIM, the STAR Refinery will meet more than 25 percent of Turkey's processed oil products needs upon startup.
"Certified with the first investment incentive granted by Turkey, STAR Refinery will eventually reduce the foreign-dependency [on refinery products] of the country," Petkim said.
With a crude oil processing capacity of 10 million tons, the refinery is underway as the most critical component of SOCAR Turkey’s integrated energy solutions and value chain.
Reporting By Yusuf Sahbaz
Writing By Gulsen Cagatay