Kurdish crude oil affairs in Mediterranean
Iraq's autonomous Kurdish government has successfully delivered a cargo of its oil to buyers for the first time - setting a precedent that could deepen a standoff with Baghdad, reports The Wall Street Journal.
This challenge to Iraq's central government - which opposes the Kurdish sales - comes as it is already under threat by the ISIS militants in the North of the country. The destination of the oil appears to be Israel - a move that would put the Middle East nation at odds with U.S.'s support for Baghdad.
FleetMon helped WSJ confirm a ship-to-ship transfer from a vessel loaded with Kurdish oil to a tanker that has now reached waters of Ashkelon in Israel, as well as a previous attempt to deliver Kurdish oil, which has been apparently unsuccessful so far as the tanker remains outside a Morroccan port:
On May the 22-nd the oil tanker UNITED LEADERSHIP loaded with a historic cargo of Kurdish crude worth $100 million departed from the Turkish port Ceyhan.
As known, the UNITED LEADERSHIP was going to deliver its cargo to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The ultimate destination of the tanker and a buyer have been never announced. Iraq started its pressure, and it became clear that to find a buyer for the crude oil would be problematic. After having passed the Strait of Gibraltar the tanker changed its course and arrived at the port of Mohammedia, Morocco. Due to the Iraq authorities’ intimidations the Moroccan government blocked the delivery of the Kurdish crude. Since that the UNITED LEADERSHIP is floating off the coast of Morocco with the stranded barrels on board, unable to deliver the cargo.
In spite of Iraq’s interference, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) pushed ahead one more attempt to export the Kurdish crude oil. This time a second million-barrel tanker that departed from the port of Ceyhan was the UNITED EMBLEM. The vessel sailed across the Mediterranean towards Malta. After three days the UNITED EMBLEM reached its destination, the crude cargo was transferred to a second tanker, the SCF ALTAI. This transaction is considered to be the first sale operation of Kurdish oil that took place at sea.
After having taken the crude from the UNITED EMBLEM the SCF ALTAI set sail towards Israel and arrived at the port of Ashkelon on June the 22-nd. Two days later the crude oil cargo was discharged into a storage facility, the buyer has not been identified. This time Iraq could not interfere as it doesn’t have any diplomatic relationship with Israel.
Since the UNITED LEADERSHIP is drifting off Morroco’s coast, a third tanker loaded with Kurdish oil left Ceyhan in direction Malta and then passed the Suez Canal heading for Sri Lanka. There is one more Kurdish crude shipment that is currently approaching the Bahamas.
Read the full in-depth story, detailing players, figures, political and market implications of these fact-making events at The Wall Street Journal