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Kurdish oil tanker spotted off Israel

A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan reappeared unladen on 19 August nearly 30 km from the coast of Israel, Reuters Live AIS ship tracking system showed.

Al-Quds newspaper reported that this is the second time that the Kamari oil tanker has appeared in the region during the past two weeks loaded with Kurdish oil. The monitoring system showed the Kamari partially unloaded north of Egypt’s Sinai on 17 August before turning off its satellite communication device until 19 August.

A spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Natural Resources was not available on Wednesday for comment, but the Kurdistan government has denied selling oil to Israel in the past, either directly or indirectly.

According to Al-Quds, the tanker was loaded with Kurdish crude oil at the Turkish port of Ceyhan on 8 August and delivered part of its cargo to Croatia via a ship-to ship transfer last week. The Hungarian MOL Group said on Monday that it had bought 80,000 tons, or slightly less than 600,000 barrels, of Kurdish crude, which was unloaded at Croatia’s Omisalj port during the weekend. The company has exploration and production assets in Kurdistan.

Nearly two weeks ago the same one million barrel tanker was loaded with Kurdish crude oil at Ceyhan port before sailing to a point nearly 200 kilometres off the Israeli and Egyptian coasts. Reuters Live AIS ship tracking revealed that the ship was fully loaded based on its draft in the water. The tanker turned off its satellite-tracking device on 1 August, before reappearing four days later with much less draft, indicating it had unloaded its disputed oil.

However, it was not possible to determine the port where the Kamari unloaded its cargo of oil nor who the buyers were.

In June, Israel reportedly received a shipment of Kurdish oil from the Ceyhan port aboard the United Emblem Suezmax tanker, after receiving a ship-to-ship transfer.

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