Sale of Kurdish oil by Turkey sparks more debate

ANKARA – Turkey's energy minister said on Monday that by shipping Kurdish oil from Turkey's southern Ceyhan port, the country is helping Iraq to export its oil.

"The oil sold is not Turkey's, it is Iraq's," said Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, responding to the Iraqi oil ministry's threats of prosecuting buyers of Kurdish oil."Whether it is sold to Mediterranean markets or to USA or to China, Turkey doesn't have the authority to decide on whom to sell the Iraqi oil."

The sale of Kurdish crude oil last month, which is dispatched Ceyhan port and sold to an undisclosed buyer, strained already-tense relations between Baghdad, Irbil -- the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdish regional government -- and Ankara.

Iraq objects to the sale of Kurdish oil through Turkey on grounds that it is against the Iraqi-Turkey Pipeline Agreement and violates Iraqi constitution. Baghdad asserts that it has the sole right to approve oil exports from the country.

"Our Iraqi brothers" should share the revenues from the oil exports according to a scheme that they jointly agree on, said Yildiz. "The revenues will help Iraq's normalization process."

Yildiz said Turkey is "a neighbor, a friend and a brother country for Iraq" and is helping Iraq to export its oil to the international markets.

- Baghdad warns buyers of Kurdish oil

In a written statement Sunday, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil warned "the international market from buying the oil shipment of United Leadership tanker ship which is loaded with the oil of Kurdistan province."

Iraq's Ministry of Oil appealed in late May for international arbitration against Ankara, demanding an immediate halt to sales, the day after Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government gave permission for the 1.4 million barrels of Kurdish oil to be sold.

The Kurdish regional government has announced that it will continue to sell its oil via Turkey despite Baghdad's opposition.

- The "United Leadership" of the coast off Morocco

United Leadership, the ship loaded with the first batch of Kurdish oil from Ceyhan, is currently off the Atlantic coast off Morocco, according to ship tracking data.

The ship sailed across the Mediterranean Sea and crossed the Gibraltar, causing speculation that it is headed to United States.

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