ANKARA: Iraqi Kurdistan has shipped over 8 million barrels of oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan since May, sources and energy officials said, as the autonomous region employs new tactics to establish independent oil sales defying Baghdad.
The 11th tanker sailed from the port Thursday, a Turkish official said, with the Kurdistan Regional Government now using a number of smaller tankers as well as its original 1 million barrel carriers to evade Baghdad’s efforts to block the sales.
“The latest tanker carrying 250,000 barrels has just departed Ceyhan and the total amount shipped through the port has exceeded 8 million barrels,” a Turkish official said.
The latest shipments are likely to further infuriate Baghdad, which disputes the autonomous region’s right to export oil independently of central government. Total shipments of more than 8 million barrels are much higher than previously reported.
A senior KRG official in the regional capital Irbil said last week it may quietly shift toward smaller vessels from the 1 million barrel cargoes it has previously been sending.
Baghdad’s persistent efforts to block sales have deterred some customers, though the number of cargoes finding buyers has also been increasing, with at least four delivered so far.
“Selling larger cargoes is harder,” the KRG official said. “So they will start exporting in smaller amounts, and with smaller tankers.”
Turkish officials did not disclose the latest tanker’s name and said that they were not informed about the buyer, but added that oil pumping and exports have continued with no issues.
“The 11th cargo has departed. There seems to be a regular book [of orders] in the making,” one industry source close to the matter said.
Tanker tracking on Reuters showed four vessels in and around the port of Ceyhan, including the Dynasty Aframax tanker and the larger United Carrier Suezmax tanker. The United Carrier is managed by the same Greek shipper the KRG has used for previous sales.
Two more from the same fleet, the United Dynamic and United Emblem 1 million barrel Suezmax vessels, are anchored less than 50 miles from Ceyhan, tanker tracking showed Thursday.