Turkey's biggest oil refinery, STAR, officially opened on Friday in the western coastal province of Izmir with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev as well as other top officials from both countries.
STAR is the Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR Turkey's biggest investment in the country at a cost of $6.3 billion.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony at the plant located in the Aliaga district, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said: "SOCAR's investment has proven once again the confidence in Turkey's economy."
The minister called STAR the biggest investment in the country's real economy of the last 30 years, as well as one of the biggest oil operations in Europe, the Middle East and the African region.
"Turkey's total refining capacity will go up by 33 percent to reach 40 million tons per year after STAR becomes fully operational," Donmez said.
He added that the economic integration between Turkey and Azerbaijan would further strengthen the region, as well as ensure more peace.
The STAR refinery, which has a crude oil processing capacity of 10 million tons, started its operations back on Aug. 3 with the arrival of the refinery's first crude oil cargo ship Absheron, loaded with 80,000 tons of feedstock.
Speaking at a ceremony at the time, 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 would help Turkey decrease its annual foreign trade by around $1.5 billion.
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 start-up.
By Hale Turkes and Murat Temizer