Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has said the total exports of Kurdish Iraqi oil through Turkey since May has reached 10 million barrels, amid ongoing tension with the Iraqi government over the legitimacy of the sales.
Answering questions at a news conference with members of the Economy Correspondents Association on Sept. 4, Yıldız said the 13th oil tanker had been loaded with oil at the port of Ceyhan, which is located in southern Turkey.
He said 180,000 barrels of oil were being transferred to Turkey on a daily basis from northern Iraq and $188 million had been paid into Turkey’s Halkbank by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
Twelve oil tankers, which have a maximum storage capacity of 2.5 million barrels, have left Ceyhan, but only the content of two of these tankers has been sold so far.
The KRG’s decision to ship oil independently has been met with strong criticism from Baghdad, which sees itself as the sole authority of Iraqi oil.
Baghdad said the sale of the oil is illegal and has taken the case to an international arbitration court, despite the Kurdish government and Turkey insisting that the sale is in compliance with the Iraq’s constitution.
The Iraqi region of Kurdistan is also currently locked in a legal battle with the Iraqi central government over the ownership of the oil located on the United Kalavrvta tanker. Baghdad filed a lawsuit at a United States court to stop the delivery of the Kurdish crude oil, which is estimated to be worth around $100 million.
However, satellite tracking showed that the tanker has pulled its anchor from the water and set sail for the first time since entering the Gulf of Mexico in July, further deepening questions over the future of the oil.
Turkey denies buying oil from militants
Meanwhile, Yıldız also harshly denied claims that Turkey was buying oil from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levent (ISIL).
“The claim that we [Turkey] are buying oil from ISIL is a complete lie,” he said, stressing that Turkey has only brought oil belonging to Iraq.
ISIL, which controls a huge swathe of territory between Syria and Iraq, has been selling crude oil from captured oilfields on the black market at less than half of the global rate.
Several media outlets had alleged that tankers carried oil from Turkey’s İskenderun and Mersin ports to Israel.