Baghdad ready to challenge Kurdish oil exports in US courts: Oil Ministry


The Iraqi Oil Ministry is prepared to challenge in the US courts the export of a tanker of crude from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region that appears to be heading to the US.

A senior Iraqi Oil Ministry official told S&P Global Platts that the ministry has been authorized to challenge the legality of the shipment and any other tankers, marking increased tension following recent warming between Baghdad and Erbil.

The Italian-flagged Neverland departed Ceyhan on June 13 with more than 700,000 b/d, destined for Augusta, Italy, but it turned off its transponder on June 21 just past Gibraltar, heading toward the Atlantic Ocean.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Natural Resources declined to comment.

“The Iraqi government prevented three years ago such a cargo to the US by judicial authority in the US,” the senior Oil Ministry official said. “It is a challenge [to us] and we will challenge that.”

The Iraqi government says only the federal government has the right to export oil, while the KRG claims the country is decentralized and authority over oil along with it.

The KRG began independent exports in early 2014, and Baghdad began cutting revenue sharing and exploring legal options. In July 2014, the KRG sent the United Kalavryta to Galveston, Texas, and a legal battle ensued.

The KRG ended up sending the tanker to offload in Israel, five months after it had sat off the coast of Texas, and it withdrew its appeal of a legal challenge in September 2015.

Source: Platts

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