Tanker carrying Kurdish crude changes course toward Cyprus

NEW YORK Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:16am EDT

NEW YORK Aug 25 (Reuters) - A tanker carrying 300,000 barrels of Kurdish crude oil has changed its destination to Limassol, Cyprus, as it returned from the United States without delivering its disputed cargo to a New Jersey refiner.

The Minerva Joy tanker had previously listed its destination as "Gibraltar orders," which usually implies a destination in the Eastern Mediterranean or further east. It changed its destination to "Limassol orders" at around 1600 GMT on Saturday, according to Reuters AIS Live shiptracking.

On Aug. 13, the Minerva Joy began sailing eastwards from off the coast of Paulsboro, New Jersey, after refiner Axeon Specialty Products said it would not buy or accept delivery of any cargoes of disputed Kurdish crude oil for its Paulsboro refinery.

Iraq's central government has sought to block independent exports of crude by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The KRG argued it was allowed to sell crude under the Iraqi constitution, which Baghdad disputes. Several cargoes of Kurdish Shaikan crude have recently reached the United States, but not all have been able to discharge their oil.

The United Kalavrvta is anchored outside of Galveston, Texas, with its cargo of Kurdish crude still unloaded.

In total, about $140 million worth of Iraqi Kurdish crude oil has been stopped from entering the United States in the last month.

The United States has not banned companies from buying Iraqi Kurdish oil, but has warned firms they may face legal action from Baghdad.

Axeon has said it received a separate cargo of Kurdish Shaikan crude in June.

At the end of July, refiner LyondellBasell NV confirmed it had recently bought "modest quantities" of what public records showed was Kurdish Shaikan crude and said it would scrap further purchases of the disputed oil for the time being. (Editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jeffrey Benkoe)