Kurdish Oil Ship in Search of a Port

By Ufuk Sanli for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Kurdish administration in northern Iraq and the Baghdad government are at loggerheads over oil exports. The tanker carrying the first cargo of independently exported oil from northern Iraq is crisscrossing the Mediterranean without any clear destination or buyer, amid threats of legal action from Baghdad.

According to online monitoring services, the ship — the United Leadership — was first seen heading to the Atlantic, its destination, the Gulf of Mexico. On Monday [June 2], however, the vessel changed route to Morocco’s Muhammadiyah region following tough remarks the previous day by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani.

The Baghdad government has declared illegal the sale of oil exported from northern Iraq to Turkey, and vowed international legal action against companies or entities who buy that oil. It has also warned it would slap its own sanctions on any buyers, be they entities or individuals.

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