Azeri BTC crude loadings suspended at a major oil export hub in Turkey after earthquakes

A satellite image showing the port of Ceyhan centred on August 18, 2015 in Turkey.
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Crude oil loadings from Turkey’s Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan terminal in the Mediterranean have been suspended following a twin set of earthquakes that devastated Turkey and Syria on Monday, leaving over 9,000 dead.

The BTC terminal loads Azeri BTC Blend crude, which is transported to the Ceyhan port through the BTC pipeline. A force majeure notice seen by CNBC — which removes contractual liability from exporters or producers for circumstances outside of their control — was issued on Tuesday evening. It notes tanker loading operations from the BTC terminal have been temporarily interrupted, as further assessments are carried out on pipeline operations after the damage occurred at the connection points of two berths.

The BTC pipeline was not impacted by the earthquakes, the Botas International Company that operates its Turkish section said on Monday. Botas International did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the force majeure notice.

Three trader sources estimated the force majeure could be in place for up to 10 days. The BTC crude oil loadings schedule that is typically published on the 8th of every month will be delayed, two trade sources said. The trade sources could only comment on the condition of anonymity because of contractual restrictions.

BTC Blend is the main crude export stream of OPEC+ member Azerbaijan.

The Ceyhan port’s second terminal, Botas, resumed loadings late on Tuesday. It brings in Kirkuk blend crude from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government for export into the Mediterranean.

“Exportation of oil through Ceyhan port has resumed tonight at 9:45 pm,” the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Natural Resources said, referring to local time.

The Ice Brent contract with April expiry was trading at $84.60 per barrel at 10:41 GMT, up 90 cents from yesterday’s settlement price. The Nymex WTI contract with March delivery was at $78.15, higher by $1.01 from the previous close price.

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