MESOP NEWS : Tanker carrying Kurdistan oil leaves Gulf of Mexico en route Gibraltar

By Naomi Christie | Bloomberg – 28 Jan 2015 – HOUSTON,— An oil tanker that hauled 1 million barrels of crude from Kurdistan to the U.S. six months ago didn’t unload its cargo and is now making a return trip across the Atlantic Ocean with the shipment still on board.The United Kalavryta is heading to Gibraltar, the British territory on the southern tip of Spain, Kyriakos Maragoudakis, operations manager at Piraeus, Greece-based Marine Management Services M.C., the ship’s operator, said by e-mail Tuesday. The tanker didn’t unload in the U.S., he said.

The tanker got caught up in a dispute between Iraq and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region last year about who had the right to sell the region’s oil and how revenue from those sales should be divided. Iraq challenged the Kurds’ right to sell the cargo. It reached the Gulf of Mexico in July, having sailed the prior month toward Ceyhan, a port on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast from where Kurdish oil is exported. Iraq and the Kurds agreed in December to start selling oil jointly. The accord will allow them to supply about 550,000 barrels a day more oil from northern Iraq, Roj Nuri Shaways, an Iraqi deputy prime minister, said Jan. 21 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The government and its instructions remain unchanged, and exports should be done via the oil ministry,” Laith Al-Shaher, director general of the legal department at the oil ministry in Baghdad, said by phone.Three calls and an e-mail Tuesday to a spokesman in the Kurdistan Regional Government weren’t immediately returned.