Israel’s Ashkelon Port Set to Receive First Kurdish Crude Oil Shipment Despite Baghdad Threats
Israel’s Ashkelon Port on Friday gave safe harbor to the controversial SCF Altai tanker, prepared to deliver the first shipment of crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan, after weeks of limbo as Iraq’s central government threatened to sue any buyer, Reuters reported.
The tanker is expected to dock early Saturday, local sources told Reuters, but it was uncertain if the crude was sold to a local Israeli refinery or would be stored for sale to a third buyer.
The destiny of the first tanker of the Kurdish Regional Government pipeline’s oil has been uncertain since loading in May, with the U.S. and Morocco refusing to accept its contents. The independent pipeline connects Kurdish oil wells directly to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, bypassing Baghdad’s federal pipeline system, which is the source of the dispute. The Kurdish pipeline is sending about 120,000 barrels per day to Ceyhan, and the KRG hopes to export 400,000 bpd by year-end.
An Israeli energy ministry spokeswoman told Reuters: “We do not comment on the origin of crude oil being imported by the private refineries in Israel.”
Reuters said Israeli refineries have taken Kurdish crude oil before, but only in small volumes that were shipped to Turkish ports by truck.
“Israel has less to lose than other U.S. or European refiners, because it has no contract for Iraqi oil,” Reuters said. “Iraq participates in the boycott of Israel along with many other Arab states.”