By John Lee.
In a move described by Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) as "an illegitimate deed of the Turkish authorities", the first cargo of oil to be shipped via Kurdistan's new pipeline to Ceyhan has been loaded onto a tanker.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has issued the following statement on the sale:
"In line with its policy of implementing the 2005 Constitution of Iraq and helping Iraq achieve its oil production, export and revenue targets, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has completed the first sales of crude oil produced in the Kurdistan Region and piped to the port of Ceyhan.
"A tanker loaded with over one million barrels of crude oil departed last night from Ceyhan towards Europe. This is the first of many such sales of oil exported through the newly constructed pipeline in the Kurdistan Region.
"The revenue from the sales will be deposited in a KRG-controlled account in Halkbank in Turkey and will be treated as part of the KRG’s budgetary entitlement under Iraq’s revenue sharing and distribution as defined under the 2005 Constitution of Iraq.
"Meeting Iraq’s continued international UN obligations, five percent of the sales revenue will be set aside in a separate account for reparations.
"The KRG has invited independent bodies to observe the sales and export process in line with the KRG’s commitment to transparency. KRG also hopes that officials from SOMO (the federal Iraqi oil marketing organization) accept KRG’s invitation to observe the process.
"The KRG will continue to exert its rights of export and sell oil independently of SOMO but remains committed to negotiate in good faith with its counterparts in Baghdad to reach a comprehensive settlement on oil issues within the framework of Iraq’s Constitution.
"The KRG has worked tirelessly with its international partners and investors to create new pathways to prosperity and economic development for the people of Kurdistan and Iraq and is ready to become a reliable and stable source of energy both for its immediate neighbours and international markets."