News / Middle East

Iraq to Appeal US Court Decision on Disputed Kurdish Oil

A image from video taken by the U.S. Coast Guard shows the oil tanker United Kalavyrta (also known as the United Kalavrvta), which is carrying a cargo of disputed Kurdish crude oil, approaching Galveston, Texas, July 25, 2014.
A image from video taken by the U.S. Coast Guard shows the oil tanker United Kalavyrta (also known as the United Kalavrvta), which is carrying a cargo of disputed Kurdish crude oil, approaching Galveston, Texas, July 25, 2014.
Reuters

The Iraqi oil ministry said on Thursday it would challenge a U.S. court decision that stopped U.S. Marshals from seizing some one million barrels of disputed Kurdish oil docked near Texas.

On Monday, a U.S. district court ruled in favor of a request by Iraq's Kurdish region that a demand by the Iraqi government for U.S. authorities to seize the Kurdish oil shipment be scrapped. However, the court gave Baghdad 10 days to resubmit its case.

“The ministry of oil is emphasizing that it is preparing the amended request and will forward it in the required period,”  the oil ministry said in a statement.

“The decision of the court is only to lift the seizure of the shipment while at sea. Therefore they referred to American maritime law. This doesn't exempt [the oil] from any seizure decision when it arrives on American soil.”

The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying about $100 million worth of Kurdish crude, has been anchored in the Gulf of Mexico for weeks, with the Iraqi region of Kurdistan locked in a legal battle over ownership with the central government of Iraq.

At the request of Baghdad, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in July ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to take control of the cargo, part of a broader strategy by Iraq to push back against Kurdish exports.

But a few days later the court said it lacked jurisdiction to carry out the seizure as the tanker was about 60 miles offshore. That prompted the Kurds to file a request to overturn the order.

U.S. refiner LyondellBasell has said it had recently bought cargoes of Iraqi Kurdistan crude for its Houston refinery, but said it would halt future purchases and not accept any deliveries until the dispute was settled.

The company did not explicitly say if it had agreed to buy the crude on the United Kalavrvta, and it is not clear if it might now accept delivery of the cargo.

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