Kurds Deny Reports of Oil Shipment to Israel

Claims were made to 'increase tensions' with Iraqi government, Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources official says.

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The SCF Altai tanker (background) docking near Israel's Ashkelon port, June 20, 2014. Credit: Reuters

The Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources refuted a recent Reuters report that the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government sold oil to Israel, Kurdish news site Rudaw reported over the weekend.

A ministry official who asked not to be identified told Rudaw that Kurdistan hasn’t “sold any oil directly or indirectly to Israel,” and that any such claims are “baseless and without evidence.”

The SCF Altai tanker arrived at Israel's Ashkelon port early on Friday morning, ship tracking and industry sources told Reuters, which noted that it was "not able to confirm" whether the Kurdistan Regional Government sold the oil directly to a buyer in Israel or to another party.

"The SCF Altai did not arrive directly from Turkish port of Ceyhan, the United Emblem was the second tanker to load crude at Ceyhan from the Kurdish Regional Government pipeline at the start of last week," according to Reuters. "It then made a ship-to-ship transfer near Malta to the SCF Altai during June 14-16, local shipping and market sources said and ship tracking showed."

Oil cargoes often change hands multiple times before reaching their final destination, according to Reuters.

Rudaw quoted the oil official as saying, “These media reports are aimed at increasing tensions between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq’s federal government without relying on any evidence or truth.”