Baghdad disregarded, again: more about the Kurdish oil shipments arriving to Turkey
A second shipment of Iraqi Kurdish crude has sailed from the Turkish port of Ceyhan, industry and government sources said, increasing the stakes in a battle with Baghdad over control of oil sales from the autonomous region.
The United Emblem suezmax tanker, carrying 1 million barrels of crude, sailed from the harbor on Turkey's Mediterranean coast on Monday, Reuters AIS Live ship tracking showed.
The shipment is the second to leave Ceyhan in three weeks after arriving by pipeline. At least 2 million barrels of Kurdish crude are now at sea, despite protests from Baghdad that only the central government has the right to sell Iraqi oil.
Iraq's oil minister condemned the exports. "What happened in my view was the biggest mistake that has been made by the Kurds and the Turks ... and the Iraqi government will take severe measures," Abdul Kareem Luaibi told a news briefing in Vienna on Monday.
He repeated that Baghdad would sue the Turkish government and that the Turkish state owned pipeline operator Botas for facilitating the sale of the crude. Baghdad was in the process of informing the United Nations about Ankara's role in the shipment, he added. "We have no choice but to go to arbitration and they [the Turkish government] have been informed," Luaibi said.
The US has publicly stated that it does not approve of oil sales made without Baghdad's consent. However, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said on Tuesday that the matter has not created any tension between Turkey and the US.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has said the oil shipments are designed to show Baghdad it will exercise control over its own oil sales, but so far it has failed to find a buyer for its first tanker shipment, which left Ceyhan over two weeks ago. Last week the first tanker, the United Leadership, sailed away from Morocco after the North African country declined to let the vessel unload its 1-million-barrel crude cargo at the Mohammeddia refinery.
Yıldız said last month that the first shipment of Kurdish oil was to be sold to Germany or Italy; however, the shipment was in limbo near the coast of Morocco as of Monday. The tanker carrying the oil had previously appeared to be heading for the US Gulf Coast before it made a U-turn and headed back toward Morocco last week.
In January of this year, the Iraqi federal government cut the KRG's 17 percent share of the national budget after it opened a separate pipeline connecting to Ceyhan that bypassed Baghdad. KRG officials said last month that in spite of repeated requests from US Vice President Joe Biden, Baghdad refused to resume budget payments, leaving the KRG with no other choice but to independently sell its oil. Baghdad has warned international buyers against purchasing the oil, which it has referred to as “smuggled.”
The KRG is currently able to pump 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day, and has said it plans to produce 1 million barrels daily by 2015; it intends to double that number by 2019.