ISIS attacks deal blow to Turkish economy

The recent attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq have led to an increase in oil prices, threatening to severely harm Turkey’s economy.

al-monitor A staff member points at a screen showing a map of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline at Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, which is run by state-owned Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS), some 70 km (43.5 miles) from Adana, Feb. 19, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Umit Bektas.

Topics covered

turkey, oil prices, oil, mosul, iraq, inflation, economy

Jun 13, 2014

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has seized Mosul. Why is Mosul important? Because it produces about 200,000 barrels of oil per day. The Baiji refinery in the region has a capacity of processing 310,000 barrels per day. Hence, Mosul is an oil city.

Accordingly, ISIS’ capture of Mosul affects energy supply security, pushing global oil prices up. ISIS attacks in recent months had already badly damaged the oil pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish terminal of Yumurtalik, halting the oil flow. The attacks have also been responsible for the fast rise in oil prices since the beginning of the year, for they have concentrated in areas close to Iraq’s Kurdish region and Turkey, thus affecting the overall energy supply security of Iraq, the world’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia. Hence, ISIS attacks have an instant impact on global oil prices.

Why do we make this analysis? Because the price of American crude oil, known as WTI, which stood at $93 per barrel at the start of the year, jumped to $104 yesterday [June 11], while the Brent crude oil price, at $106 per barrel at the start of the year, went up to $110. In sum, the blow that ISIS dealt to Iraq’s energy supply security has resulted in an 11% increase in WTI prices and a 3.7% increase in Brent prices at a time when oil prices were expected to decline this year.

One may wonder who benefits from ISIS attacks driving up the oil prices. Naturally, the higher prices play mostly into the hands of international oil companies as well as Russia and Iran, which have been irked by Iraq’s increase of production this year. In February, the Iraqi output reached a staggering 3.6 million barrels, breaking a 30-year-old record.

In short, while some emerge as winners from this affair, Turkey is among the losers. Why?

Turkey’s economy management had estimated the average Brent oil prices for this year at $103.2 per barrel. The 2014 economic program and budget were drawn up accordingly. Based on the same estimate, energy imports for 2014 were estimated at $61 billion and the current account deficit at $55.5 billion.

The question that pops up immediately is, “What happens now that oil prices have defied the estimates?”

And the answer is: The calculations Turkey made at the beginning of the year will go awry. Inflation is already on the rise because of the swelling energy bill. The higher energy prices will also create a competition problem for Turkey’s exports. The current account deficit will again exceed expectations. Hence, the volatility perception will be reinforced. Interest rates will remain high.

So, that’s what ISIS means — an organization dealing a heavy blow to the Turkish economy.

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