An oil tanker carrying Kurdish crude oil has broken its silence after six months, and left the U.S. Gulf coast, heading for Gibraltar.
The tanker named United Kalavrvta has left the U.S.' Gulf of Mexico and started heading towards off the coast of the U.S. state Florida on Thursday, according to an international maritime traffic monitoring system, which shows the vessel's destination as Gibraltar.
The crude oil tanker was anchored 60 miles off the U.S. coast since July, when a Texas court ruled in favor of the Iraqi government's claim that Kurdish Regional Government, KRG, in northern Iraq cannot sell the oil without Baghdad's approval.
The court overturned its decision on Aug. 26, opening the door for Kurdish oil to be sold in the U.S., however the Iraqi government appealed the case and sued United Kalavrvta's operator Greece-based Marine Management Services on Sept. 10.
The tanker's operator declined to comment about the vessel's whereabouts and destination.
The legal limbo has taken over since September as the vessel filled with 1 million barrels of crude oil remained anchored off the coast of Galveston, Texas.
The vessel's cargo was estimated to be worth around $100 million six months ago, however it has lost more than half of its value as oil prices have declined more than 60 percent since June.
- Oil export dispute between KRG and Baghdad
Baghdad had claimed the sales were illegal since it had not authorizated oil exports, while KRG had argued the oil sales were in compliance with the new Iraqi constitution.
The two parties put aside their differences in early December, and agreed that KRG will send 250,000 and Kirkuk province will export 300,000 barrels of oil per day through Baghdad who will allocate 17 percent of the Iraqi budget to the KRG in return.
Both the KRG and the Iraqi government are facing economic crisis due to lack of infrastructure and fighting against the Islamic State, while most of their revenues are dependent on oil exports.
President of Economy and Finance Commission and Kurdish Member of Parliament Dr. Izzet Sabir told The Anadolu Agency on Jan. 13 that KRG needed $10 billion to overcome the economic downturn, calling it the 'biggest crisis in the last 22 years, while the Iraqi budget has fallen by $50 billion year-on-year regressing to $100 billion in 2014.
By Ovunc Kutlu