Iraq’s oil ministry said the country’s self-governing Kurds illegally shipped a second crude cargo from a Turkish port and urged other governments to help ward off potential buyers.
The United Emblem loaded 1.045 million barrels of crude at Ceyhan, Turkey, yesterday and is now in the Mediterranean Sea, Fayyad al-Nima, Iraq’s deputy oil minister for refining affairs, said by phone from Baghdad today. “We informed the foreign ministry to inform our ambassadors to tell governments not to deal with illegal oil,” he said.
The ship is the second tanker owned by Marine Management Services MC to be identified by Iraqi authorities as carrying crude produced in the Kurdish region, according to a database maintained for the International Maritime Organization. Senior officials at the company’s offices in Piraeus, Greece, weren’t available to comment, according to a person there who answered two phone calls and wouldn’t identify herself.
The loading and departure of the United Emblem intensifies a years-long dispute over oil revenue and territory between the Kurds and central government of Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer. Tensions flared last month when the Kurdistan Regional Government began pumping oil through its own pipeline to Ceyhan, where ship-tracking data show the crude was loaded on the Marine Management Services ship United Leadership.
Iraq’s state oil-marketing company last week advised possible buyers to shun the United Leadership’s cargo. The vessel is currently in international waters near Morocco, according to ship-tracking data. Nadia Laraki, director general for Morocco’s Agence Nationale des Ports, said on June 5 it hadn’t discharged its oil.
An inability to sell the crude would “really damage” Kurds’ hopes of forcing the central government in Baghdad to accept independent exports from their region, Richard Mallinson, an analyst at London-based consultant Energy Aspects Ltd., said today by phone. “It would give Baghdad’s negotiators an extra boost to feel that they had blocked these cargoes,” he said.
Safeen Dizayee, the KRG’s spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a call or a text message to his mobile phone seeking comment. Falah Mustafa Bakir, head of the KRG’s department of foreign relations, said earlier today in an interview in the city of Erbil that the Kurds are “determined to sell” their first shipload of oil. ““We know that Baghdad is trying to stop the sale, but we’re determined to continue,” Bakir said.
The KRG estimates its region to hold about 45 billion barrels of crude reserves. Iraq, which has about 150 billion barrels without the Kurdish reserves, surpassed Iran in 2012 to become second in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Shipping signals can be wrong because much of the information is entered manually and because not all data are captured.