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Morocco orders Kurdish oil tanker to leave its waters

June 6, 2014 at 10:09 am

A Kurdish oil tanker’s second attempt at selling crude oil was thwarted yesterday after Moroccan authorities ordered the tanker to leave its waters.

The tanker, United Leadership – a symbol of the long-standing dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government on the rights of the sale of oil, carried one million barrels of oil from the region on May 22 and abruptly changed direction twice without unloading its cargo.

Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said last week that the Kurds are in control of their oil sales.

But the central government in Baghdad, which considers any oil exports outside the control of its control illegal, has so far been successful in keeping potential buyers at bay.

“The United Leadership moved into international waters yesterday upon a request from Moroccan authorities,” Nadia Laraki, director general for National Ports Agency, said. “The issue is out of our hands. It has not docked and therefore has not unloaded a single cubic meter.” She added that the tanker is now in international waters, about 34 miles from the Moroccan coast.

The tanker first set sail heading to the Gulf Coast in the United States, according to tracking data, however it changed its destination and headed towards the Mediterranean Sea at the end of last week.