WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey had already significantly reduced its oil imports from Iran, which is under the choke of Western sanctions, and further cutbacks would depend on his country's energy needs.
"On crude oil, there has been a significant decrease in the amount of oil we import from Iran ... As to whether we would cut back any further, it will depend on our need. Time will tell," Erdogan said at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Last year, Ankara effectively halved imports of Iranian oil after a European Union oil embargo against Iran came into full force on July 1, which also targeted the marine insurance sector, cutting off the usual avenues for tanker insurance.
Turkey was twice granted a waiver on Iranian oil by the United States for 180 days after it made initial cuts.
Turkish imports of Iranian crude were steady in April at around 100,000 barrels per day, data from a well-informed shipping agent in the region showed two weeks ago.
Before the introduction of stricter U.S. and EU sanctions against Iran last year, imposed over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, Ankara's purchases were averaging 180,000 bpd.
Turkey nonetheless remains one of the largest customers for Iranian oil together with Asian buyers such as China, India, South Korea and Japan.
(Reporting by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Doina Chiacu)