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Trafigura gets gasoline to Iraq despite blacklist

Baghdad, February 6, 2013

Trader Trafigura is still indirectly supplying gasoline to Iraq through another firm, four industry sources said, despite being blacklisted for dealing with the Kurdistan region, at loggerheads with Baghdad.

Trafigura, which had been a major supplier of gasoline to Iraq, declined to comment. Last year it had delivered as much as 60,000 tonnes a month, worth more than $65 million at current prices.

Due to the size of Iraq's tenders, traders closely monitor purchases by its State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) though few have the logistical network and capability to turn sales there into profitable business.

Trafigura was one of the few, but was banned from participating in tenders for 2013 after buying Kurdish oil.

Accordingly, SOMO last November finalised its deal to buy 1.56 million tonnes of gasoline from a pool of suppliers that excluded Trafigura. The contract was awarded to rival oil firms Vitol and Glencore, along with oil major BP and trading company called Sima.

But while Trafigura's name may not be on the suppliers list, traders say, the Swiss firm is behind the gasoline supplies of Sima, an Iranian-Azeri company registered in Fujairah with an address in Dubai.

When asked whether gasoline from Trafigura's tanks was being used to supply Iraq, officials at the state marketing firm said they would not comment on rumours.

Traders say that a number of vessels delivering gasoline to Iraq's southern Khor al Zubair terminal for Sima loaded their cargoes from Trafigura's storage tanks at Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.

"Two vessels have been booked for January," said a gasoline trader, listing tankers that loaded from Trafigura's storage and had been booked by Sima for delivery to Iraq. "The High Current and the UACC Al Medina."

Shiptracking data shows both vessels heading to Khor Al Zubair from Jebel Ali over the past week and a second trading source confirmed the two vessels were delivering gasoline to Iraq for Sima.

A port document obtained by Reuters showed that High Current was anchored at the Iraqi terminal on Jan. 30 with a 16,500 tonne cargo and had been chartered by Sima.

The delivery was due to be followed by the UACC Al Medina arrival, scheduled for the start of February, according to ship tracking data.

"It's a well-known secret that Trafigura back Sima's deliveries to SOMO," said another gasoline trader. "Hardly a secret really. "

Trafigura declined to comment on whether Sima's vessels had loaded gasoline from its storage tanks and repeated calls to Sima's office in Dubai were unanswered.-Reuters




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