World Bulletin/News Desk
The first cargo of oil piped from Iraqi Kurdistan was sold to European markets and the revenue will be deposited in Turkey's Halkbank, the autonomous region said in a statement on Friday.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said sales from the Turkish port of Ceyhan would continue despite opposition from the federal government in Baghdad, which has threatened legal action against any company involved in "smuggling" Iraqi oil.
"A tanker loaded with over one million barrels of crude oil departed last night from Ceyhan towards Europe," read the KRG statement. "This is the first of many such sales of oil exported through the newly constructed pipeline in the Kurdistan region."
The statement added that the oil revenue would be treated as part of the region's share of the Iraqi national budget, which Baghdad has partially withheld since the start of the year as punishment for the Kurds' moves to export crude independently.
The KRG said it remained open to negotiations with Baghdad and would comply with United Nations obligations by setting aside 5 percent of the revenue in a separate account for reparation for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
1.4 million barrels of Kurdish oil stored in the southeastern Turkish port of Ceyhan was loaded onto ships on Thursday night, said Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz on Friday.
On Thursday, Yildiz announced that the offloading of one million barrels of the Ceyhan oil had begun.
The oil will be sold to Germany and the Mediterranean markets, most probably to Italy, Yildiz revealed on Friday.
Yildiz emphasized the oil belongs to the whole of Iraq and the trade of it, as well as the remaining one million barrels in Ceyhan "will be traded by the Iraqis not by the Turkish government."
However, Yildiz gave no further information on whether a formal agreement had been made about the sale.
"If Iraq pumps more, we transfer and sell their oil to the international markets," he said when asked whether exports will continue.
The oil has been stored in Ceyhan for the last six months in line with an agreement signed between Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq.
The central government in Baghdad, meanwhile, opposed the sale of the Kurdish oil stored in Ceyhan, claiming it would bypass the country’s national State Oil Marketing Company and violate Iraq’s constitution.
While negotiations on an deal between the Kurds and Baghdad authorities were taking place, almost 2.5 million barrels of oil was accumulating in Ceyhan waiting for Iraq to approve its sale.
However, on April 28 the Kurdish government announced the stored oil will be sold without Baghdad's approval.
Following the statement, Yildiz said Turkey is ready to facilitate the sales of Kurdish oil to international markets.
No information was available about whether Erbil and Baghdad had come to an agreement about the sale of the oil.Last Mod: 23 Mayıs 2014, 15:52