Report: Israel Importing Three-Quarters of its Oil from Kurds
Israel has imported as much as three-quarters of its oil from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish north in recent months, The Financial Times reported on Sunday.
The move provides a vital source of funds to the cash-strapped region as it fights Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists, according to the report.
The imports highlight the significant inroads that oil from Iraqi Kurdistan is making into world markets, with Italy, France and Greece also emerging as big buyers, the newspaper noted. It is a trade conducted through secretive pre-pay deals brokered by some of the world’s largest oil trading companies, including Vitol and Trafigura.
The report was based on shipping data, trading sources and satellite tanker tracking. This data found that Israeli refineries and oil companies imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between the beginning of May and August 11. This would be worth almost $1 billion based on international prices over the period.
That is the equivalent of about 77 percent of average Israeli demand, which runs at roughly 240,000 barrels per day, according to The Financial Times. More than a third of all of the northern Iraqi exports, which are shipped from Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, went to Israel over the period.
Some of the oil may have been re-exported from Israel or put into storage tanks, industry sources told the newspaper.
Traders and industry analysts have suggested that Israel may be acquiring the Kurdish oil at a discounted price, though officials in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) deny this. Others have suggested it may be a way for Israel to funnel financial support to the Kurds.
The emergence of Israel as one of the biggest buyers of oil from Iraq’s north illustrates another fissure between Erbil and the federal government in Baghdad.
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