First tranche of Kurdish Iraqi oil revenue deposited in Turkey’s Halkbank: Minister

First tranche of Kurdish Iraqi oil revenue deposited in Turkey’s Halkbank: Minister

ANKARA - Reuters
First tranche of Kurdish Iraqi oil revenue deposited in Turkey’s Halkbank: Minister

The SCF Altai tanker (R) docks near Israel's Ashkelon port June 20. The United Emblem was the second tanker to load crude at Ceyhan from the Kurdish Regional Government pipeline at the start of last week. It then made a ship-to-ship transfer near Malta to the SCF Altai during June 14-16. REUTERS Photo

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said the third tanker carrying oil from the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan has departed Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, announcing payments from the oil sales are now being transferred to Turkey’s state-run Halk Bank.

A fourth tanker is being loaded with oil from Iraqi Kurdistan at the Turkish port, Yıldız also said on June 23 and added that $93 million for the first cargo loaded last month had been deposited at the lender.

Turkey does not know who is buying the cargoes but believes the crude is being sold to Mediterranean markets, Yildiz told reporters in comments broadcast live.

Over the past weekend, a cargo of disputed crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan’s new pipeline was delivered for the first time in Israel, despite threats by Baghdad to take legal action against any buyer.

The SCF Altai tanker arrived at Israel’s Ashkelon port early on June 20 morning, ship tracking and industry sources said. By the evening, the tanker began unloading the Kurdish oil, a source at the port said.

The Kurdistan Regional Government said on June 21, a day after the news was first reported, it did not deal with Israel in the sale.

“The KRG categorically refutes the claim that it has sold oil to Israel,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Natural Resources said in an e-mail. “The KRG has not sold oil either directly or indirectly to such a destination.”

In a statement on its website earlier on June 21, the KRG said: “We are proud of this milestone achievement, which was accomplished despite almost three weeks of intimidation and baseless interferences from Baghdad against the tanker-ship owners and the related international traders and buyers.”

Securing the first sale of oil from its independent pipeline is crucial for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as it seeks greater financial independence from war-torn Iraq.

But the new export route to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, designed to bypass Baghdad’s federal pipeline system, has created a bitter dispute over oil sale rights between the central government and the Kurds.