Socar Will Invest Billions in Turkey

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Socar, the Azeri state energy firm, said it would invest $12 billion to $15 billion by 2017 to build a domestic refinery and two plants in Turkey.

Socar vice president Davud Mamedov said the plants would process up to 600,000 barrels per day.

"We want to increase production and exports of refined products as it will bring more profits and will help raise our profile on the Turkish market," Mamedov said.

"Our local market is not that big, so we can cover product shortages in other markets," he added.

Turkey's first 200,000-barrel-per-day refinery could be built by 2012 on the Aegean Sea near the existing Petkim petrochemical plant.

"This plant will be designed to process different types of crude from neighboring markets with a sulfur content below 2 percent and will mainly supply Petkim to cover the shortage of refined products in Turkey, including diesel," he said.

He said he estimated Turkish diesel imports at 6 million tons per year, a total that should fall after the new plant is built.

Turkey's top administrative court in December suspended the $2 billion sale of 51 percent in Petkim after a trade union challenged its sale to a consortium involving Socar, Turcas and Saudi-based Injaz Projects.

Mamedov said the consortium was ready to invest $30 million to $40 million in improving Petkim's logistics and equipment as soon as the dispute was over.

"We believe in a positive outcome," he said.