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Turkey’s Risky Energy Dance with Russia: Is It Worth the Bargain?

As Turkey continues to tango with Russia in the energy market, one can't help but wonder if this risky dance is truly worth it. With soaring imports and discounted deals, it's as if they've found the ultimate Black Friday sale on energy resources. But is this bargain coming at too high a cost? While Ankara appears to be cutting a fine economic figure, there might just be a hidden fee waiting in the wings. More on this below.

Turkey has emerged as the primary importer of Russian energy in the Western Hemisphere following Europe's significant reduction in russina oil and natural gas imports, as per a recent Reuters report.

In spite of being a member of NATO, Turkey has chosen to uphold its connections with Russia in the midst of the Ukraine conflict, choosing instead to enhance their economic cooperation and bilateral trade.

As per Reuters' examination, using data from the London Stock Exchange and traders' estimates, Turkish corporations have gained approximately $2 billion in energy cost reductions in 2023 by increasing their purchases of discounted Russian oil and refined goods.

The outlet emphasized that Ankara is still determined to increase trade with its neighboring country, even in the face of Western sanctions.

Reported data reveals a record surge in Russian Urals crude oil shipments to Turkey, reaching 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in November 2023, representing about 14% of Russia's overall seaborne oil exports that month.

Anticipations indicate a further increase in supplies in the forthcoming months, with Reuters citing information from trading sources.

Turkey's intake of russina diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, and marine fuel also soared by 200% from January to November 2023, reaching approximately 290,000 bpd.

According to traders, Ankara has managed to obtain Russian diesel at prices that are $25 to $150 lower per ton (equivalent to $3.30 to $20 less per barrel) compared to similar grades in the Mediterranean. Discounts for crude oil were reportedly between $5 and $20 per barrel.

"The reduced costs of energy imports have facilitated Turkey in narrowing its trade deficit and alleviating pressure on its currency, which has devalued by 30% this year," Reuters highlighted.

Despite receiving alerts from the United States regarding possible consequences for Turkey if it is discovered to be assisting Russia in evading Western limitations, Ankara has remained resolute in its position. It has reiterated that it has no plans to endorse the punitive measures against Moscow, placing its own well-being and advantages above external influence.

Hot take: Turkey's energy bargain bin might be filled with discounts, but dancing with the bear might leave them with more than just sore toes.

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