Texas Judge Bins Kurdish Crude Seizure Order
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller in Houston, Texas threw out a court order requiring federal agents to seize and hold USD 100 million worth of crude oil sent by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The ruling allows United Kalavrvta (formerly SCF BYRRANGA), which has been moored in international waters off Texas for more than a month, to unload one million barrels of Kurdish crude, according to Bloomberg.
Judge Miller said that federal laws governing property stolen at sea do not grant him the authority to decide the dispute between the KRG and the Iraqi Oil Ministry, both laying claim to the cargo.
According to the ruling, Iraqi Oil Ministry had lost control over the crude during the Kurdish government’s unauthorised pumping from Iraq’s northern oilfields.
“Kurdistan’s unauthorized export of oil over land -– and later overseas –- may violate Iraqi law, but it does not violate U.S. maritime law,” Miller said.
Miller scrapped a seizure order issued by a Houston magistrate judge on July 28, who agreed to store the disputed cargo onshore at Iraq’s expense as the case reached the nation’s Supreme Court.
Another tanker carrying 300,000 barrels of Kurdish crude oil, the Minerva Joy, was forced to change its destination to Limassol, Cyprus, returning from the United States without delivering its disputed cargo to a New Jersey refiner.
The tanker started sailing eastwards from off the coast of Paulsboro, New Jersey, after refiner Axeon Specialty Products said it would not buy or accept delivery of any cargoes of disputed Kurdish crude oil for its Paulsboro refinery, Reuters reports.
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