Friendly powers in the international arena are helping Iran get fuel supplies after the U.S. passed unilateral sanctions a week ago that aim to hinder Tehran's fuel imports.
The Islamic Republic is buying around half of its July gasoline imports from Turkey and the rest from Chinese sellers, oil traders said on Thursday, as most other suppliers have stopped selling due to the U.S. sanctions.
Turkish refiner Tupras began supplying gasoline to Iran in June after a hiatus of at least 18 months, trade sources said, just days after Turkey and Brazil brokered a nuclear fuel swap plant with Tehran.
Western powers rejected the plan, and Turkey and Brazil responded by voting against the fourth round of sanctions on Iran at the U.N. security council.
China, one of Iran's main trade partners and a permanent member of the security council, signed up to the U.N. sanctions. But before it did so, Beijing demanded the measures avoid targeting Tehran's oil and gas industries. Earlier this week, China denounced the United States for imposing its own sanctions on Iran.
Two of the gasoline cargoes coming from Turkey were scheduled to load from Turkish refiner Tupras' Izmit refinery, while two or three were scheduled to load from Tupras' Izmir refinery, sources said. The cargoes would be loaded load onto ships owned by the state energy giant National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), they added.
A Tupras spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
Iran would import around 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline in July, steady from June, oil traders said. It would take around nine cargoes, four or five of them from Turkey and the rest from Chinese sellers, they said.
The limited pool of suppliers was driving up the cost of gasoline for Iran and making it harder for the Islamic Republic to buy the quantities it needs, traders said.
Iran is OPEC's second-largest oil producer but relies on imports to meet up to 40 percent of its gasoline needs as it lacks the refining capacity needed to meet domestic demand.
U.S. sanctions aim to target those imports, allowing for the imposition of bans on access to the U.S. banking system, property transactions and foreign exchange in the United States for international suppliers of gasoline to Iran.
The sanctions were also impacting the international flights operated by Iranian airlines. Two Iranian airplanes have been forced to fly from Hamburg airport without refuelling this week, an airport spokesman said on Thursday.
Washington has not spelled out whether its new sanctions are intended to force firms to refuse to fuel Iranian jets at airports in third countries, but U.S. officials have made it clear they are pleased with reports sanctions had begun to bite.