News / Middle East

Iraq Seeks Seizure of Kurdistan Oil in Tanker Sitting off Texas Coast

A still image from video taken by a U.S. Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft shows the oil tanker Union Kalavryta, which is carrying a cargo of Kurdish crude oil, approaching Galveston, Texas, July 25, 2014.
A still image from video taken by a U.S. Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft shows the oil tanker Union Kalavryta, which is carrying a cargo of Kurdish crude oil, approaching Galveston, Texas, July 25, 2014.
Greg Flakus

A vessel called United Kalavryta, containing 1 million barrels of crude oil from Kurdistan, is sitting in international waters off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The government of Iraq considers the shipment illegal, because Kurdistan, not Baghdad, approved its sale. A U.S. judge had ordered the ship seized, but it's currently untouchable in international waters.

The ship full of disputed crude came to Galveston, Texas, about two weeks ago and contacted the U.S. Coast Guard for a pre-arrival safety inspection.
 
US Coast Guard spokesman Andy Kendrick said the ship was, at that time, some 100 kilometers off the coast.
 
"We went out to where they were, did our exam, it is basically just a comprehensive exam to check all the equipment -- life-saving equipment, engineering, navigation, the ship's cargo transfer system and safety mechanisms associated with that," said Kendrick.
 
Kendrick said the ship passed all inspections and was approved to move into a zone used for what is called "lightering," a process whereby smaller vessels transfer the oil to storage tanks on shore since the ship is too large to enter the harbor.
 
But attorneys representing the government of Iraq contacted all the lightering companies in the Houston-Galveston port areas threatening to sue them if they took part. Baghdad contends that the oil, worth about $100 million on the open market, was illegally transferred from Kurdistan to a port in Turkey.
 
A federal judge ordered the vessel and its cargo seized. But since it never entered US waters there was no way to enforce that order.
 
At the U.S. State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki backed Iraq's claim to the petroleum. "Our policy certainly has not changed; we believe that Iraq's energy resources belong to the Iraqi people and certainly have long stated that it needs to go through the Iraqi government."
 
But Psaki said the US government has no plan to intervene as long as the ship remains outside its jurisdiction.
 
Joan Mileski, director of the Department of Maritime Administration at Texas A&M University in Galveston, said no government can legally touch a ship at sea.
 
"We have agreed, by treaty, globally, that we let everybody move in and out of international waters. We all agreed to that, on the planet. So if it sits out in international waters, there is nothing you can do about that," said Mileski.
 
But she said keeping a ship afloat indefinitely, with no place to unload the cargo is costly.
 
"I am sure the owner of the ship is annoyed to no end because every day it stays out there he is losing $70,000 to $80,000," she said.

Mileski said the crew members on the tanker also have rights under international law and the terms of their contracts. At some point, she said, the ship may run out of fuel, food and water.
 
But to plea for humanitarian aid, she said, the captain or crew will have to communicate with someone on shore.
 
"If they have the ability to do ship-to-shore phoning, which they probably do, they can, but they don't have things like Internet or cell phones or anything like that because they are too far out," said Mileski.
 
Not much is known about the owner of the Union Kalavryta, which is flagged in the Marshall Islands. The purchaser of the oil is listed as Talmay Trading, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, with offices in Dubai. This company could be serving as the intermediary for another buyer. There has been no response from the company for comment.
 
Kurdistan is an autonomous region in Iraq that has on a few occasions shipped oil from its own fields to buyers in other countries. The Kurds argue that disruptions to the Iraqi system have forced them to find alternatives.

 

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kamaran. from: ghareeb
August 03, 2014 3:53 AM
This is not a legal issue, this is political, psaki the white house spokeswomen may be defending the 'view' of the American government. The iraqi federal court and the iraqi federal constituition have taken the side of kurdistan. it is the legal right of kurdistan to have the rights to the sale of this oil.


by: meanbill from: USA
August 02, 2014 8:31 AM
WHY did the US seize the ship with illegal Libyan oil in international waters, and return it to Libya?.... (but the US now says), it can't seize this ship with Iraq illegal oil in international water off the US coast?..... (The answer is obvious isn't it), the Iraq illegal oil is going to American companies, and they'll let it be offloaded at sea in international waters..... CRAZY isn't it?.... how America thinks?


by: Anonymous
August 02, 2014 5:00 AM
So America says the oil can only be processed through the corrupt baghdad government ,and it belongs to the people of iraq ,wake up America ,the people of iraq get none , at least in Kurdistan the people benefit from the oil .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid