Turkey’s only base oil plant is likely to resume production once Tupras restarts its Izmir refinery on July 1. Operations at the refinery, which includes a 400,000 metric ton per year API Group I unit, were halted on May 5 because of weak domestic demand for petroleum products caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tupras, the country’s largest industrial entity, also cut runs at its Izmit refinery and postponed turnarounds, according to media reports.
The restart is contingent on increasing demand for fuel products and improved economic activity, the company stated on the Capital Markets Board’s official public disclosure platform. Tupras sold 4.6 million tons of petroleum products at home in the first quarter of the year, down from 5.2 million tons in the same quarter 2019. The Izmir refinery accounts for 40 percent of the company’s crude processing capacity
“We announced to the public that we revised our production quantity for 2020 downwards in line with the negative effects of [the] Covid-19 epidemic on fuel product demand,” the company said in the disclosure.
This has been a challenging year so far for Tupras, a division of Turkish conglomerate Koc Holding. In April, Fitch Ratings changed the company’s outlook to negative from stable. The company’s turnover also fell by 18 percent, leaving a first quarter net loss of 2.27 billion lira (U.S. $330 million at the time of writing), as reported in its financial results published at the end of May.
Its position as the lone base oil producer is an advantage for Tupras, especially since there is a substantial demand for industrial lubricants in Turkey. Fifty percent of finished lubricants consumed in Turkey are for industrial applications.
“I think that while it is tough times right now, Turkey is a net importer of most oil products and will continue to be for many years, and this gives Tupras an edge over many other refiners in Europe,” Michael Connolly, senior consultant on global refining at ICIS, told Lube Report. “However, its proximity to the Middle East does place it against a highly competitive refining base focused on exports, although I don’t believe Turkey is their first and foremost target.”