MESOP : THE OILY MYSTERY CONTINUES – Iraqi Kurdistan denies selling oil to Israel

ERBIL-Hewlêr, RUDAW 22.6.2014 -Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’,— The Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources has dismissed a report claiming that a Kurdish crude oil shipment was sent to Israel as “baseless and without evidence.” A ministry official who asked not to be identified told Rudaw that the Kurdistan Region hasn’t “sold any oil directly or indirectly to Israel.”

Reuters news agency reported on Friday that the first cargo of oil exported by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had arrived at the Israeli port of Ashkelon. It was reportedly being transported on the SCF Altai, which sailed from the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The KRG’s decision to export crude oil via Turkey has caused a major row with Iraq’s central government, which claims Erbil is circumventing Baghdad by making oil deals independently and has threatened to sue any buyer. The KRG says the exports are legal because the revenue is being shared with the rest of Iraq, as mandated by the constitution. The oil official said, “These media reports are aimed at increasing tensions between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq’s federal government without relying on any evidence or truth.”

Reuters said it was not able to confirm whether the KRG sold the oil directly to a buyer in Israel or to another party. It noted that cargoes often change hands multiple times before reaching their final destination. Like many other countries in the region, Iraq has an embargo against trade with Israel. The Ministry of Natural Resources reported on Friday that a second tanker load of Kurdish oil has been safely delivered to buyers and two more vessels are being loaded at Ceyhan port. Iraqi Oil Ministry accused KRG of smuggling extracted oil from Kurdistan fields to Israel, and considered it a flagrant exceeded of the national values and principles, a ministry statement said on Saturday.