Des­tiny of Kur­dish oil tanker in Texas still unkown

Buyer of Kur­dish crude oil is Tal­may Trad­ing of the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

The buyer of Kur­dish crude oil sit­ting off the coast of Texas is a com­pany called Tal­may Trad­ing of the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, CNBC has learned.

Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments seen by CNBC, Tal­may, us­ing a Lon­don ship­bro­ker, hired AET Off­shore Ser­vices of Dal­las, Texas, on July 17, 2014, to un­load roughly 1 mil­lion bar­rels of crude in the United Kalavy­tra, cur­rently lo­cated off the coast of Texas near Galve­ston.

Ef­forts to reach the ship bro­ker were un­suc­cess­ful.

Tal­may may never get cus­tody of the oil be­cause a Texas judge has or­dered U.S. mar­shals to seize the cargo at the re­quest of the Iraqi govern­ment.

The crude is con­tro­ver­sial be­cause the Iraqi Kur­dis­tan Re­gion drilled and shipped the oil in de­fi­ance of the Iraqi cen­tral govern­ment, who says the ship­ment is a vi­o­la­tion of the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion.

In a court fil­ing on Mon­day, Iraq laid claim to the cargo that it says was sold by the re­gional govern­ment of Kur­dis­tan with­out per­mis­sion from Baghdad, which has said such deals amount to smug­gling.

To carry out the order from Mag­is­trate Judge Nancy K. John­son of the U.S. District Court for the South­ern District of Texas, the Mar­shals Ser­vice may need to rely on com­pa­nies that pro­vide crude of­fload­ing ser­vices.

The judge's order said the ves­sel would be al­lowed free move­ment af­ter the cargo is un­loaded.

The case is Min­istry of Oil of the Repub­lic of Iraq v. Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources of Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment of Iraq (KRG) et al, U.S. District Court, South­ern District of Texas, No. 3:14-cv00249.

Tal­may ap­pears to have ad­di­tional of­fices in Dubai and Moscow, and historic news re­ports show it has traded in Rus­sian oil from the Urals.

Com­ment­ing on the is­sue, Kur­dis­tan’s Min­is­ter of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Ashti Hawrami said on Wed­nes­day, July 30, 2014 “the KRG’s lawyers sent a let­ter to a court in Texas to ex­plain the mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the Iraqi fed­eral govern­ment. The Iraqi fed­eral govern­ment has pe­ti­tioned a Texas court for an order to seize crude oil le­gally pro­duced, ex­ported, and sold by the KRG in ac­cor­dance with the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion and law.”

“The let­ter in­di­cates the pos­si­bil­ity of mas­sive coun­ter­claims against the fed­eral govern­ment,” said Min­is­ter Hawrami. “The fed­eral govern­ment of Iraq is try­ing to achieve in for­eign courts and in the Iraqi supreme court what is de­nied to the fed­eral govern­ment by the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion. The fed­eral govern­ment can­not win, be­cause our crude is le­gally pro­duced, shipped, ex­ported, and sold in ac­cor­dance with the rights of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion as set forth in the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion,” con­tin­ued Min­is­ter Hawrami. “Our claims for un­paid com­pen­sa­tion, which must be paid as pro­vided in the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion and the law, will also be be­fore any for­eign court in which the fed­eral govern­ment is seek­ing to at­tack us,” Min­is­ter Hawrami con­tin­ued.

Com­ment­ing on this is­sue Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Taner Yildiz told re­porters in Kay­seri, Turkey on Wed­nes­day that Ankara will re­spect the fed­eral Iraqi govern­ment's de­ci­sion amid lin­ger­ing ob­sta­cles in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets re­gard­ing the sale of Kur­dish crude to global buy­ers via Turkey.

“Whether they [the US] ban this [sell­ing Kur­dish oil] in Texas or other coun­tries do the same; the crude be­longs to Iraq and the fed­eral con­sti­tu­tion will de­cide on fu­ture sales. The Baghdad cen­tral gov- ern­ment and Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties will find a way to share this oil, and Turkey is only a third party here,” Yıldız ex­plained. The min­is­ter on Wed­nes­day was quoted as say­ing that he “finds the Texas court rul­ing odd.”

Yıldız also dis­missed ear­lier re­ports in Turk­ish me­dia that said fur­ther bans on Kur­dish oil sales would cost Turkey as much as $100 bil­lion in the loss of crude trans­fer rev­enues. Ankara has not dis­closed the amount of money charged to the Kurds for the trans­fer of crude from the Mediter­ranean port of Cey­han.

Iraqi Trade Min­is­ter Khairalla Hassan, on the other hands, ar­gues that the de­ci­sion by the Texas court is not fi­nal and the tanker is only “on hold” till the case is set­tled.

Min­is­ter Hassan be­lieves that the case will most prob­a­bly be set­tled in the in­ter­est of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion since the Fed­eral Court of Iraq al­ready ac­knowl­edged the le­gal­ity and con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of pro­duc­tion and ex­port of Kur­dis­tan’s oil by KRG.

He also added that de­spite this fact, the crude may lose its value by the time the court case is set­tled due to the high costs of keep­ing the crude in the tanker float­ing on the wa­ters, but more im­por­tant for Kur­dis­tan will be the court de­ci­sion.

“If the de­ci­sion is in the in­ter­est of the Kurds, then this will be a big vic­tory for the Kurds and recog­ni­tion that what they are do­ing is con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal,” Min­is­ter Hassan ar­gued.

Ex­perts be­lieve if the U.S. buys oil from Kurds, other coun­tries around the world would do the same and if Kurds can sell their oil in­de­pen­dent of Baghdad, they will be one more step closer to in­de­pen­dence.

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