On Sunday Iraq threatened legal action against any buyer of oil exported via a new pipeline from the autonomous Kurdistan region to Turkey.
After arriving in Turkey, the Kurdish oil was loaded onto a tanker called the United Leadership. It set sail 10 days ago, prompting Baghdad to file for international arbitration against Ankara for facilitating the sale.
The final destination of the oil is still unknown.
Iraq says its State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) has exclusive rights to manage sales of crude from all the country, including Kurdistan.
It considers any sales outside of this structure “smuggling”.
“SOMO, on behalf of the Iraqi federal ministry of oil, is hereby warning all companies, individuals and bodies from buying the Iraqi crude oil cargo that is loaded on the vessel. The Iraqi federal ministry of oil and SOMO … shall reserve the right to take all legal measures against any company, individual and/or body that bought or might consider buying the said cargo,” SOMO said in a statement signed by General Director Majid Alhilfi.
After leaving Turkey’s Ceyhan port, the United Leadership sailed through the Mediterranean Sea and appeared to be heading in the direction of the United States.
On Friday, it reversed course, ship tracking data showed.
On Sunday it appeared to be stationary in waters off the coast of Morocco.