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Turkey, Russia, Iran to trade using local currencies: report

Istanbul — Turkey, Russia and Iran reached an agreement to conduct bilateral trade in their own currencies, and to avoid the use of US dollars, Turkey's state-owned Anatolia news agency reported.

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Anatolia quoted the governor of Iran's central bank, Abdolnaser Hemati, as saying an agreement had been reached that included all trade in petroleum, natural gas and other commodities as well as some banking issues and that meetings were planned between officials of the three central banks to finalize details.

Hemati added that trade would be conducted at agreed exchange rates.

The announcement of the agreement follows a meeting between Iranian President Hasan Ruhani, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran on Friday.

The meeting was reported on the Turkish president's website, but there was no mention of any agreement on trade between the three countries being conducted in local currencies or for any avoidance of the use of US dollars for trade.

The agreement comes at a time of great volatility for the Turkish lira, which has lost 40% of its value against the dollar since the start of the year, due in part to a confrontation with the US over Ankara's refusal to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Turkey holds contracts to import up to 30 Bcm/year of gas from Russia, of which 20 Bcm/year is imported by state-owned Botas and the remaining 10 Bcm/year by eight private companies, and up to 9.6 Bcm/year from Iran, accounting for a combined 68% of Turkey's contracted import portfolio.

In addition, Iran and Russia are two of Turkey's main suppliers of crude.

Data released by Turkey's energy market regulator EPDK for June, the most recent month for which figures are available, show Russia supplying 20.7% and Iran 15.7% of the average 447,603 b/d bought by Turkey's sole crude importer, Tupras, which operates four refineries with a combined capacity of 562,000 b/d.

Tupras' imports of Iranian crude have fallen sharply since reaching a peak of 64.2% of the 316,340 b/d imported in March.

Turkey's crude import profile is set to change with the planned commissioning at the end of September of the 214,000 b/d Star refinery on the country's Aegean coast. The facility is being developed by state-owned Azeri oil company Socar, and test production is currently being conducted.

In August, Socar confirmed it had received a cargo of 140,000 mt of Urals crude from Russia, while last week it was reported in the Azeri media that Socar had signed a deal to purchase 1 million mt of crude from Russia's Rosneft for the Star refinery. The latter supplies will start December 1, according to the reports. -- David O'Byrne,

-- Staff,

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,