Tanker with Kurdish crude reappears off Texas

United Kalavryta: US Coast Guard snapped photo of tanker carrying oil from Kurdistan earlier this month

An tanker loaded with $100 million of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan has popped up again on satellite tracking systems off the coast of Galveston, Texas as a weeks-long legal standoff continues over the sale of the crude.

The Marshall Islands-flagged United Kalavryta had not sent a signal reporting its position for several days, leading to speculation that the vessel might have unloaded or left the area following a court verdict Monday.

But the ship restarting signalling its unchanged position on Thursday, with the latest update coming at 1:23 UTC time, or about 8:30 am Houston time on Friday, online vessel trackers indicated.

Baghdad has long disputed the rights of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to sell its own crude, and filed suit in US court in attempt to block sales transactions there.

Reuters reported that a US court ruled on Monday that the cargo could not be seized because the vessel lay outside of American territorial waters at some 60 miles out.

But Baghdad is reconsidering its legal options, a threat which may leave US companies hesitant to deal with the product, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The US Coast Guard told the Chronicle it authorised the ship to unload its cargo on 27 July, but has received no required notifications to begin "lightering", a process to begin offloading the oil to smaller ships.

Reuters reported that Axeon Specialty Products earlier this month refused delivery of Kurdish crude at its Paulsboro, New Jersey, refinery.

Tracking data analysed by the news wire suggests Kurdish sellers have found a warmer reception in Israel, which has expressed its support for independence for the region.

Suezmax tanker Kamari, at least partially loaded with oil, apparently turned off its tracking signal on 17 August as it sailed near Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Reuters reported.

It reappeared on 19 August 30 miles off the coast of Israel riding higher in the water, indicating its cargo had been offloaded.


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