A tanker containing a million barrels of crude oil is floating around the Mediterranean, and any buyer will be helping Iraq’s Kurds to win greater independence.
The oil aboard is available at half-price, an official involved in the trade told Bloomberg, an assertion denied by the Kurdish administration. It’s at the center of a fight over ownership between the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, which pumped and shipped the crude from its territory in northern Iraq, and the central government in Baghdad, which claims the rights to all oil revenue.
Kurdish Peshmerga armed forces took control of northern Iraq’s key oil hub, Kirkuk, after militant Islamists routed the Baghdad government’s army last week. The oil dispute has raised the possibility of the Kurdish region achieving financial self-sufficiency to go with the expanding territory.
“If that tanker docks, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government will take an important step toward independence,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by phone on June 13.
By Selcan Hacaoglu, Jack Fairweather and Nayla Razzouk