By Zain Shauk
July 25 (Bloomberg) — A ship carrying crude from Iraq’s Kurdistan region is off the coast of Florida, with the future of the oil aboard murky because of uncertainty over who has the right to sell it.
The United Kalavryta is operated by Unicom Management Services Ltd., said Andy Kendrick, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard. It’s scheduled to dock in Galveston, Texas, tomorrow, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government is seeking to sell oil from its territory and claim revenues to help finance its effort for further independence from the national government. Officials in Baghdad have said the country’s oil revenues belong to the central government.
“We are aware there is a tanker off the coast of Florida currently, but our policy here has not changed — Iraq’s energy resources belong to all of the Iraqi people,” Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters today in Washington.
Oil producers are actively pursuing resources in coordination with the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Kurdish government expanded its control over the country’s resources in early June, when Kurdish Peshmerga armed forces took control of northern Iraq’s key oil hub, Kirkuk, after militants routed the Baghdad government’s army.
In June, Iraq had the highest estimated oil output of any member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries except Saudi Arabia. The Kurdistan Regional Government estimates the area holds 45 billion barrels of oil reserves.
Ship pilots for the Texas ports of Houston and Galveston said they have received no orders thus far to guide the vessel into channels near some of the largest U.S. refining complexes. The pilots require four hours’ notice for handling a ship.
–With assistance from Isaac Arnsdorf in New York.