Turkey's energy import bill dropped by 9.6% year-on-year between January and March amid thanks to a fall in global oil prices, according to official data.
Having stood at $11 billion in the January-March period of last year, the country's energy imports dropped to around $10 billion, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data.
Total imports in the first quarter of the year amounted to $55.6 billion, increasing by 10.3% compared to the same period of the previous year, the data showed.
Oğuzhan Akyener, the chairman of Turkey Energy Strategies and Policies Research Center (TESPAM), said that Brent oil prices, which maintained a low level in the first quarter and fell to $32 per barrel, were effective in the decline in imports.
Crude oil imports surged by 54,000 barrels in the first quarter compared to the same period of last year to 626,000 barrels, Akyener told Anadolu Agency (AA) Saturday. “This rate of increase coincided with the rapid decline in oil prices due to the drop in demand with the coronavirus outbreak,” he noted. “Given the fact that people are staying at their homes and consumption has fallen as part of the measures taken in Turkey in March, this can be explained by the effort of import crude oil importing refiners to fill their existing stock capacities while oil prices are cheap.”
He also remarked that oil prices had decreased by 19% annually over the period, while the number of crude oil imports increased by 9%. "In this case, the economic size of imports dropped by 11%. Meanwhile, with oil prices retaining much lower levels in March, although the total amount of crude oil imports increased, import values in economic volume decreased by $372 million compared to last year due to prices. This rate was directly reflected in the current account deficit,” he said.
Akyener said in the first quarter of the year, Turkey's total exports decreased by 4% compared to the same period of the previous year, while imports increased by 10.3% to $55.6 billion. “These rates caused the current account deficit to increase,” he continued. “Petroleum and petroleum products exports decreased by approximately $315 million and imports by $1 billion. This may be related to seasonal oil prices, which declined by about 19%, and decreased demand under the measures for the pandemic. It is noteworthy that while imports of petroleum products decreased, all items except petroleum products increased much more than expected.”
He said falling oil prices due to the epidemic had had a positive effect on Turkey's current account deficit. “Although it is predicted that this situation will continue to increase in the second quarter of the year, this trend will start to reverse with the third quarter,” he added.