Iraq Sues Greek Shippers for Transporting Kurdish Oil

Posted by Eric Haun
Thursday, September 04, 2014
United Kalavrvta (Photo: MMS)

Iraq said it filed a lawsuit against Greek shipping company Marine Management Services (MMS) for its role in the export of crude from the Kurdistan region, which Baghdad says is illegal.

The case is the latest move by Baghdad to deter customers and thwart independent exports of crude from the autonomous Kurdistan region. The federal government claims sole authority to manage sales of all the oil in Iraq.

The Iraqi oil ministry said on Thursday that MMS operated five vessels that had transported oil on behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) from a Turkish port.

"MMS has actively facilitated the KRG's illegal export scheme, repeatedly ignoring warnings that the crude oil it was carrying does not belong to the KRG," it said in a statement, which did not specify when and where the case was filed.

"MMS is liable for damages of at least $318 million, and possibly significantly more, as a result of its willing and active participation in the KRG's illegal crude oil export scheme."

Athens-based ship manager MMS said it was not aware of any suit filed by the Iraqi government and maintained it was simply carrying out its business of transporting goods.

"We are not a party to this dispute, and any lawsuit filed against us by the Iraqi government is misdirected and ill-advised and will be robustly defended for lacking any basis and foundation," MMS said in a separate statement on Thursday.

"The goods in this case are crude oil, which the KRG claims is rightfully theirs."

MMS said if there was a dispute over the ownership of the cargoes, it had to be resolved between the government in Baghdad and the KRG "either through a political or failing that a judicial process".

The Kurds began exporting oil in May via an independent pipeline, which links up with an Iraqi pipeline at the Turkish border to terminate at the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. More than 10 million barrels of oil have been shipped from the port since then, Turkey's energy minister said on Thursday.

Kurdish officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Iraqi oil ministry said MMS had declared false destinations for its tankers, turned off its ships' tracking systems to avoid detection and undertaken ship-to-ship transfers of oil on the high seas at night, a process it described as "dangerous".

One of MMS's tankers, the United Kalavrvta, has been anchored off the coast of Texas since July laden with $100 million worth of crude. Baghdad has threatened to sue anyone who buys the oil and has asked a U.S. court to seize the vessel's contents. A Texas court has said it lacks jurisdiction because the tanker is offshore.

Disputes over contested oil shipments are not uncommon.

Two years ago, two tankers holding oil from South Sudan were held up for months in Asia due to a dispute over oil revenues between Sudan and its landlocked neighbour South Sudan.

Sudan had seized the oil and loaded the consignments onto the tankers for what it called unpaid transit fees. The spat was resolved after both sides agreed that Sudan would pay back proceeds from the two oil shipments as well as reaching an accord over a metering system over oil exports.

(By Ahmed Rasheed and Jonathan Saul; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Michael Urquhart and Jane Baird)

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Legal

St. Lawrence Seaway Workers Extend Strike Deadline

The union that represents workers on the St. Lawrence Seaway, the waterway that links the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, has extended a strike deadline to Monday at 5 p.

Total CEO: EU Must Fight US Crude Export Law

First major public appearance of new Total head; he challenges European politicians to fight US ban. The new head of French energy major Total challenged Europe to fight Washington over the U.

MHI to Change Name of Group Company

Effective November 1 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) will change the name of its group company in Singapore from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering & Services Private Ltd.

Energy

Arctic Oil: Bourbon to Enter Arctic Market in 2016

Bourbon plans to enter the growing Arctic Offshore market in 2016 with a new Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessel built by the Vard shipyard. This AHTS (Anchor

Libyan Government: Ports, Oil Fields Safe

Libyan oil ports and fields are safe and under government control, the country's interior minister said on Friday after visting the eastern Brega port. "This

China to Import 335 MT of Naphtha, Wants More

China is set to import more than 335,000 tonnes of naphtha and diesel, rare moves for the world's no. 2 oil consumer given it has been self-sufficient at meeting domestic oil product demand,

News

Wärtsilä, Diesel United Renew Pact

Wärtsilä and Diesel United Ltd in Japan have signed a ten-year renewal of their co-operation agreement for the sale, manufacturing and servicing of Wärtsilä low-speed marine engines.

MARAD Tests Alternative Power for Ships

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is testing state-of-the-art, environmentally efficient technology onboard the Training Ship (TS) Kennedy.   The National Defense

Delta "T" Hooks for Offshore Customer

Gaining further ground into the offshore crane market, Delta "T" Systems supplied Cranston Eagle hooks to crane manufacturer Appleton Marine, Inc.   These cranes

Middle East

GAC Starts Hull Cleaning Op'ns in Oman

GAC EnvironHull hull cleaning operations using the brush-and-diver-free HullWiper system starting at the port of Sohar, just outside the Gulf of Hormuz. This

Iran Gas Exports to Europe Would Take at Least 5 Years

Iran would take at least five years to start exporting natural gas to the European Union if sanctions were removed, industry experts said on Wednesday. Last month,

DBR Delivers 42 Gensets to Damen

DBR has delivered the last units of an order totaling 42 marine generator sets for Damen Shipyards Gorinchem. The generator sets will be installed on 14 ASD tugs

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1655 sec (6 req/sec)