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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Iraq Blacklists Three Oil Tankers For Shipping Kurdish Crude

Three tankers that shipped crude from Kurdistan have been blacklisted by the Iraqi State Organization for the Marketing of Oil (SOMO) in a move designed to increase pressure on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Reuters reports.

The KRG has been exporting approximately 500,000 barrels of oil through Turkey since mid-2015, after it accused the Iraqi government of failing to live up to the terms of a previous revenue-sharing deal.

Baghdad said the KRG had not been exporting enough crude to earn the revenues outlined in the deal.

Three ships - named Maran Centaurus, Four Smile, and SN Olivia - have been explicitly banned from docking in Iraqi ports or shipping Iraqi crude in a letter written by SOMO to market vendors.

SOMO has sent out similar letters in the past, but had stopped the practice in the past few months as the two sides negotiated the terms of a new deal. The organization did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Iraq’s new Oil Minister, Jabar Ali al-Luaibi, told Reuters earlier this month that he believes the disagreement between KRG and the Iraqi government is fundamentally solvable.

If the newest round of dialogue breakdowns, Baghdad has said it would even consider diverting Kirkuk’s oil to Iran by truck instead of utilizing the existing pipeline to Kurdistan to punish the Kurds.

Iraq resumed Kirkuk crude transfers to Kurdistan earlier this month at half the volume of previous shipments.

In a bearish oil market, the KRG’s terms for a solution are tough for Baghdad to swallow.

The KRG’s June offer required guaranteed oil revenues of $1 billion every month in exchange for forfeiting unilateral oil exports--the Kurds’ key economic leverage over Baghdad in their struggle for independence. However, the offer’s status remains unclear.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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