The United Emblem

Second tanker carrying KRG-exported oil departs

CEYHAN, June 11, 2014 – On Monday, a second tanker carrying oil originating from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq left the Turkish port town of Ceyhan, where the oil had been stored. The departure of the United Emblem, loaded with more than 1 million barrels of oil, means there are now in excess of 2 million barrels of oil from the Kurdistan Region at sea.

The United Leadership, carrying the first independent exports of crude oil from the Kurdistan Region, was stationed some 48 kilometres off the coast of Morocco as of Sunday, Reuters reported.

The vessel left Ceyhan on May 23 for the US Gulf Coast but, according to Reuters and ship tracking data, the vessel reversed course in the direction of the Mediterranean shortly thereafter. Sources noted that the crude was also turned away from the Mohammedia refinery in Morocco, and on June 4, Italian authorities issued a letter stating that Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company could pursue legal action against buyers of the crude oil. The US State Department had issued a similar statement last week.


The crude oil on board the two tankers represents the ongoing struggle between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s federal government over autonomy and oil rights. The KRG has asserted that it has the constitutional authority to export and market oil, provided that it divides proceeds in accordance with the country’s laws and constitution. The federal government in Baghdad has denied this right, and has issued warnings to oil companies, refineries and traders alike that engagement with the KRG would be in defiance of Iraqi law.

Upon notice of the first loading of crude oil last month, Baghdad issued a request for arbitration to halt future exports and hamper the sale of the loaded crude. The KRG in turn asserted that such a request was in violation of both national and international law.

There is still no buyer for the Kurdish crude.


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