US court orders seizure of Kurdish crude cargo
Houston, July 29, 2014
Acting on a request from the central government in Iraq, a US judge has signed an order telling the US Marshals Service to seize a cargo of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan aboard a tanker off the coast of Texas, court filings showed early on Tuesday.
To carry out the order from Magistrate Judge Nancy K Johnson of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the Marshals Service may need to rely on companies in the Galveston Bay area that provide crude offloading services.
The United Kalavrvta tanker, which is too large to enter the port of Galveston near Houston, was given clearance by the US Coast Guard on Sunday to transfer its cargo offshore to smaller boats that would deliver it to the US mainland.
It is carrying some 1 million barrels of crude worth about $100 million and arrived on the Texas coast on Saturday.
Iraq, in a filing on Monday, laid claim to the cargo that it says was sold without its permission.
Earlier, AET Offshore Services, a company in Texas hired to unload a tanker full of crude oil, had asked the court to determine whether Iraq's claim on the oil was valid, before starting to unload the ship.
Sale of Kurdish crude oil to a US refinery would infuriate Baghdad, which sees such deals as smuggling. The US government has expressed fears that independent oil sales from Kurdistan could contribute to the breakup of Iraq. – Reuters