U.S. not open for Kurdish oil, Baghdad says

Buyers of oil parked off Texas case face prosecution, Iraqi government warns.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 2, 2014 at 10:12 AM

BAGHDAD, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- The Iraqi Oil Ministry published a letter Tuesday saying the U.S. market is far from a legal destination for oil taken from the Kurdish north.

The semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government last week declared victory in a Texas court case involving the status of oil loaded onto the vessel United Kalavrvta, circling currently near the port city of Galveston.

The Iraqi Oil Ministry published a letter saying the KRG was making misleading statements on the case. The court's decision was "quite narrow," the ministry said, and does nothing to prevent U.S. authorities from seizing what Baghdad said is illegal cargo.

"The U.S. market is far from being open for illegal KRG exports," it said.

Both sides make competing claims over whether or not Kurdish oil exports are legal. The U.S. government has sided with Iraq, saying Baghdad has exclusive rights to determine exports. The issue over United Kalavrvta, however, is a commercial matter, Washington said.

Baghdad said an independent Iraqi court is the best forum to settle the dispute. It added, however, it has the right to appeal in U.S. courts and would prosecute "any companies or individuals dealing with illegally exported Iraqi oil, whether by loading, unloading, transporting or purchasing of such cargoes."

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