BP Shrugs Turkey’s Threat to Limit Business

LONDON (Reuters)–British Petroleum has sold no crude oil to Turkey this year–a BP spokesman’said on Friday in a response to Ankara’s new threat to limit oil purchase ties.

Senior Turkish energy ministry officials have confirmed that state refiner Tupras has been advised to limit oil purchases from BP and Amoco in protest against their opposition to a trans-Turkish Caspian oil pipeline.

BP sold 55,000 metric tons of crude to Turkish state refiner Tupras last year–but has so far sold none in 1998–the BP spokesman’said. The major does have an annual agreement to sell 250,000 metric tons of fuel oil to Turkey–he added.

"They (Turkey) haven’t said anything to us. If they did we’d have to consider what they’d have to say," the BP spokesman’said.

BP also buys 840,000 metric tons of gasoline and 820,000 metric tons of gas oil a year from Tupras to supply its Turkish downstream network–he said.

The Turkish decision forms part of Ankara’s campaign to persuade the BP/Amoco-led AIOC group developing a huge Azeri offshore project to build a major pipeline to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

AIOC is expected to recommend a cheaper route via Georgia at its crucial shareholders meeting in early December.

"This kind of talk is unlikely to help with the decision on the route. We are surprised and disappointed to be singled out in such a way," the BP spokesman’said–pointing out that the group had 10 other international members.

"The premise that BP is against the pipeline is wrong. We are neither for nor against it. We have simply questioned the wisdom of taking such an early decision given that there are so many uncertainties."

BP is due to merge with Amoco at the end of this year giving the combined entity nearly 43 percent of AIOC.

Some oil sources said Tupras had bought 1.79 million metric tons of Egyptian oil from Amoco so far this year.

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