The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) today opened its giant new oil refinery in the Aliağa district of İzmir, Turkey. The new Star Refinery, built at a cost of some USD 6.3 billion, is the first new oil refinery to be built in Turkey in 30 years and will, by boosting Turkish refining capacity by over 30%, help cut Turkey’s dependence on imported refined oil products.
In an opening ceremony attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Azeri counterpart President Ilham Aliyev, Erdoğan said that the new refinery “will take brotherly strategic ties to the next level” between the two countries, adding that the “refinery will enable Turkey to make USD 1.5 billion in savings in its import bill on an annual basis” and that more than 1,100 jobs will be created at the refinery.
The new refinery is just the latest example of Turkey’s move to create closer economic relations with its neighbour Azerbaijan, which culturally, linguistically and historically has much in common with Turkey. Azerbaijan is also a muslim state, and has an autocratic government controlled by one family, which one suspects Erdoğan looks on with some admiration. The Turkish government will be well pleased with this move which will help reduce its reliance on Western economies, and strengthen its ties with the East, from which it believes its real heritage derives.