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Canadian Court Orders Seizure Of Kurdish Oil Tanker

A Halifax court issued last week a warrant for the seizure of an oil tanker that holds crude oil from Kurdistan, which was last spotted off the Canadian coast, Kurdish media network Rudaw reported on Monday.

The oil tanker—loaded with crude from Kurdistan and thought to be headed to the U.S. before it turned off its tracker after exiting the Strait of Gibraltar a week ago—had reappeared 300 miles off Halifax, or around 600 miles from Boston, the Financial Times reported last Friday, citing satellite ship-tracking data.

But according to Rudaw, a court in Halifax recorded on June 29 a “warrant for the arrest of the cargo of [approximately] 721,915 barrels of crude oil abroad the M/T [motor tanker] Neverland.”

The tanker Neverland was originally thought to be headed for the United States, further buttressing the semiautonomous region’s economic independence as Erbil prepares for a referendum on political independence later this year. An estimated 650,000 barrels of oil, mostly extracted from the Kirkuk field located in Kurdistan, had departed the Mediterranean Sea in June. The oil tanker’s route indicated a dash towards the American East coast, after a three-year hiatus—caused by a dispute with Baghdad over Washington’s true loyalties—had ended the transatlantic shipments.

Kurdistan’s Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami said last week that Kurdistan had been assured by the buyers of its crude oil that the oil was not headed to the U.S. Hawrami spoke to Reuters just days after the central Iraqi government said it would challenge the legal validity of Kurdish oil exports to the U.S. in American courts in a renewed tension between Baghdad and Erbil over crude oil exports.

According to Iraq Oil Report from Saturday, July 1, Iraq had obtained a Canadian warrant to seize the tanker, and oil from Kurdistan was not offloaded in Nova Scotia. The legal action prevented sales of Kurdish oil to Canada and the Neverland has sailed back into the Atlantic Ocean, Iraq Oil Report reported.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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