By Jessica Donati and Peg Mackey
LONDON, April 5 The first cargo of Iraqi
Kurdistan's crude oil has been sold on the international market,
industry sources said, as the autonomous northern region ramps
up trade the central government views as illegal.
The crude pumped from Genel Energy's Taq Taq oilfield was
trucked over Iraq's northern border with Turkey and sold via
tender for loading in April.
One trader said the cargo sold was 30,000 tonnes, which at
Friday's market prices was worth around $22 million.
"I said we may have interest for this 30,000 tonne cargo and
they (Powertrans) said we already sold it," said the prospective
S.E.T. Select Energy GmbH, an energy firm based in Hamburg,
Germany, won the tender issued by intermediary Powertrans,
according to two industry sources.
Select Energy did not immediately respond to email and
telephone requests for comment.
The direct trade of crude and condensate by truck through
Turkey has been rising steadily and now stands at close to
50,000 barrels per day (bpd). Exports of Taq Taq crude by truck
are now more than 25,000 bpd, industry sources said.
A senior Iraqi official said last month the growing trade
between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey
threatens to split Iraq in two.
Oil lies at the heart of a long-running feud between the
central government and Kurdistan. Baghdad says it alone has the
authority to control exports and sign contracts, while the Kurds
say their right to do so is enshrined in Iraq's federal
Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said in January the
ministry of oil intended to sue Anglo-Turkish Genel Energy
and other companies for the export of crude from Iraqi
Genel Energy GENL.L expects to export oil by pipeline from
its fields in Iraqi Kurdistan by 2014, regardless of a political
impasse between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous region.
A number of major oil firms with interests in the south have
opted not to participate in tenders offering Kurdish crude and
condensate to avoid angering Baghdad.
That said, buyers of Kurdish condensate have so far faced
few repercussions, with one notable exception - trading house
Trafigura, which was banned from Iraq in December.
In any event, demand by smaller players and oil majors that
do not have interests in southern Iraq is sufficient to absorb
the growing volume on offer.