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Off the Coast of Texas: Why Is There Iraqi Oil?

Updated on September 12, 2014
The Kurdish oil tanker off the US coast
The Kurdish oil tanker off the US coast

Texas does not need to purchase 1 million barrels of oil, Iraqi crude, for $100,000,000. America has plenty of oil, shale, oil shale, natural gas. Maybe it was such a great deal the mysterious American purchaser could not pass it up. But that is what is sitting of the coast of Texas, near Galvestan, in an oil tanker.

The tanker cannot discharge the oil because in American court, the Iraqi government has requested the US to seize it because they claim it was stolen. The Iraqis, ironically, claim that the Kurds in Kurdistan stole it from the oilfields the Kurds control but are claimed as Iraqi property. It was just recently that the Kurds and the Iraqi army fought together to retake what ISIS had seized. The Germans and Americans are both fully supporting the Kurdish armed forces because they seem to be the only one capable of fighting ISIS.

Angered, the Iraqi government claims the Kurdish government in northern Iraq has been stealing Iraqi oil. Well, are the oilfields under Kurdish control, Iraqi? Or, Kurdish? Its confusing because the Iraqi government in Baghdad includes several Kurdish representatives in the Parliament, under the Iraqi President. So, one might conclude they are Iraqi oilfields.

Whatever. The Kurds have a long history of wanting to be their own country In the American court system, when the Iraqi government filed the complaint, the lower court granted the stay or injunction to prevent the oil from being unloaded. On appeal, the Kurds contested the Iraqi claim on technical grounds, something the Iraqi lawyers overlooked. Thus, the Appeals court reversed the injunction. The Iraqi government filed their own appeal of that decision! Now, the Kurds have to present their response again. They claim Baghdad has no claim on the oil. Back to Square 1.

This whole thing is crazy stupid.

So, the Kurdish tanker, one of 13. sits off the coast of Texas. It has already been there over a month as the slow American legal system grinds on. The Kurds export their oil, or Iraqi oil, on these tankers from the port of Ceyhan, Turkey. I thought the Turks hated the Kurds? Why do they allow it? A kickback? So far, only two of the tankers with crude have actually been allowed to discharge the oil, and this was the tanker that docked in Israel! The other tanker unloaded 600,000 barrels purchased by Hungary. This ship docked at Croatia. A third tanker faces the same dilemma as Texas off the coast of Morocco. Turkey has ignored objections by Iraq’s central government, which says the oil exports are illegal and must be stopped. Seven tankers have so far loaded 6.5 million barrels of Kurdish oil transported to the Ceyhan terminal, many others are trucked in through Turkey. President Obama has expressed that export of this crude without Baghdad approval is not legal. Yet, because this is a business transaction, it does not violate American law, which is where the tanker is. There is reasonable suspicion that that the American company who bought the oil was Chevron. It is the only American oil company helping the Kurds.

I think Iraq and the Kurds should just split the revenue. The Middle East is such a "room of mirrors".


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