President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the $6-billion Star oil refinery of Azeri state energy firm SOCAR — the first refinery built in Turkey in 30 years — in İzmir's Aliağa district on Friday.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Chairman of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) Binali Yıldırım, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank as well as other top officials from both countries also attended the ceremony.
Addressing the grand ceremony, Erdoğan said Turkey and Azerbaijan are taking brotherly ties, which already represent an example to the world, to the next level.
"This project is the largest real-sector investment in the last 30 years," Erdoğan said.
"This refinery is Turkey's biggest localization project," Erdoğan added. He said the refinery is expected to save around $1.5 billion in terms of imported petroleum products as well as reduce the foreign dependency on petroleum products.
The facility that is also significant in terms of employment, will employ some 1,000 people, he added.
At this facility, which is also significant in terms of employment some 1,100 people will be employed, he added.
The $6.3-billion refinery is the largest single-location real sector investment in Turkey's history and will be one of the biggest petroleum and gas operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The refinery was built by SOCAR, which began investing in Turkey after it acquired the country's leading petrochemical company Petkim in 2008 for $2 billion. Construction at the refinery began in 2011.
The project has the feature of being the first "Strategic Investment Incentive Certificate" project in Turkey and is expected to reduce Turkey's annual foreign trade deficit by at least $1.5 billion.
The import rate of diesel will drop below 40 percent once the refinery reaches its full capacity. With 1.6 million tons of production, it will fully eliminate Turkey's need to import jet fuel. The refinery is also expected to reduce liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports to 70 percent from 80 percent.
The STAR Refinery will meet more than 25 percent of Turkey's processed oil products needs upon startup. In 2018, refining of around 2 million tons of crude oil is expected at the refinery, which will increase to 10 million tons of crude at full capacity.
The plant, which constitutes a significant share of SOCAR investments in Turkey, took seven years to build.
Meanwhile, STAR started operations at its first facility in early August. The first crude oil cargo ship carrying 80,000 tons of feedstock from Azerbaijan, Absheron, arrived at the 2,400-hectare facility on the Aliağa Peninsula.
Turkey CEO of SOCAR, Zaur Gahramanov, had confirmed the arrival of the first shipment and said production would start at the end of October.
With an annual production capacity of 10 million tons of crude oil, the refinery will also produce 1.6 million tons of naphtha, and 1.6 million tons of jet fuel. Some 4.5 million tons of low-sulfur diesel that the Petkim refinery needs will also be produced at STAR.