The STAR Oil Refinery (STAR) is the largest private-sector project. The STAR Refinery was opened in the economically strong western part of Türkiye, in the port of Aliaga, near Izmir. The main purpose of the refinery is to process naphtha, the raw material of the Petkim petrochemical complex, and other major products, such as diesel, jet fuel, naphtha, reformate, etc., that Türkiye imported previously.
A brief look at the history of STAR Oil Refinery: SOCAR has a 60% stake, and the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan has a 40% stake in the STAR Refinery. The foundation of the oil refinery was laid on the 25th of October 2011 at a ceremony attended by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the President of Türkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In June 2014, to finance the STAR Refinery project, its shareholders signed loan agreements with 23 financial institutions, including commercial banks and export credit agencies. $3.3 billion of the project's total cost - $6.7 billion – was financed by loans and the rest by equity and domestic sources. This was the most significant and longest-running financing agreement in the history of Türkiye’s real sector. The project has won several awards from prestigious international organizations, such as Best Project Financing of the Year and Best Export Financing.
Tecnicas Reunidas (Spain), Saipem (Italy), GS Engineering & Construction Corp (South Korea), and Itochu (Japan) were responsible for the engineering, procurement, and construction of the STAR Refinery, which has Türkiye’s first Strategic Investment Incentive Document. At the peak of construction, the project employed 19,500 workers from 14 countries, including about 3,000 engineers. The refinery planned to employ 1,150 people during production. On the 3rd of August 2018, 80,000 tons of Azeri Light crude oil was delivered to STAR Oil Refinery by an Absheron tanker.
The opening of the STAR Oil Refinery took place on the 19th of October 2018 at a ceremony attended by the Presidents of the two countries. Addressing the ceremony, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said,
Azerbaijan has invested $6.7 billion in establishing the STAR Refinery. With additional investment, this amount will reach about $700 million shortly. This is the biggest investment we have made abroad, which is natural. At the same time, we jointly implemented other important projects; the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, and TANAP oil and gas pipelines as the construction of the Southern Gas Corridor and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Each milestone is a huge project and is very important for our countries, peoples, the entire region, Eurasia, and the world. Türkiye and Azerbaijan are re-creating Eurasia's energy and transport map through joint efforts, demonstrating strong political will.
President of the Republic of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the strategic importance of relationships between our countries,
Today, with the opening of the STAR refinery, we are developing our relationships, which are an example to the world. We continue our relationships with Azerbaijan on the scale of courage and politics and in a strong economic framework. This enterprise is one of the most important and concrete examples of our long-term work to strengthen our solidarity in energy. With the STAR refinery we have just opened, we are further strengthening the strategic scale of our fraternal relationships with Azerbaijan. Every project implemented under the leadership of Turkey and Azerbaijan further strengthens the ability of our countries to become a regional power.
- 2008 – Petkim-owned 2,860 hectares of land donated to the STAR Oil Refinery.
- 2009 - The Environmental Assessment Report received a positive opinion.
- 2010 - Preliminary Detailed Design (FEED) agreement is signed. License obtained. International Environmental and Social Impact Assessment has begun.
- October 2011 - The foundation of the STAR Oil Refinery was laid.
- December 2012 - STAR Oil Refinery received a Strategic Investment Incentive Document.
- May 2013 - A contract was signed with a consortium of international companies to construct the STAR Refinery.
- June 2014 - The most significant and longest-term project financing loan in the history of Türkiye’s real sector was signed for the STAR Refinery.
- November 2017 - The power supply phase of the STAR Refinery was completed.
- January 2018 - The assembly and testing phase of the STAR Refinery was completed.
- March 2018 - 100 million man-hours have been completed in the construction of the STAR Refinery.
- August 2018 - The first crude oil arrived by tanker at the STAR Refinery, and testing began for refining.
- October 2018 - The official opening of the STAR Refinery took place.
The refinery, with a capacity of refining 11 million tons of crude oil per year, meets about 25% of Türkiye’s demand for oil products and significantly contributes to reducing the current budget deficit in Türkiye.
The refinery was the 3rd largest industrial enterprise in Türkiye in the 500 Largest Industrial Enterprises in Türkiye survey in 2021. It was awarded first place in the EBSO list of the 100 Largest Industrial Enterprises in the Aegean Region.
In 2021, STAR became the first oil refinery in the world selected by the World Economic Forum to Global Lighthouse Network for its digitization and 4.0 technologies application.