ARBIL, Iraq May 23 (Reuters) – The first cargo of oil piped from Iraqi Kurdistan was sold to European markets and the revenue will be deposited in Turkey's Halkbank, the autonomous region said in a statement on Friday.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said sales from the Turkish port of Ceyhan would continue despite opposition from the federal government in Baghdad, which has threatened legal action against any company involved in "smuggling" Iraqi oil.
"A tanker loaded with over one million barrels of crude oil departed last night from Ceyhan towards Europe," read the KRG statement. "This is the first of many such sales of oil exported through the newly constructed pipeline in the Kurdistan region."
The statement added that the oil revenue would be treated as part of the region's share of the Iraqi national budget, which Baghdad has partially withheld since the start of the year as punishment for the Kurds' moves to export crude independently.
The KRG said it remained open to negotiations with Baghdad and would comply with United Nations obligations by setting aside 5 percent of the revenue in a separate account for reparation for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Friday that the first cargo was sold in to the Mediterranean spot crude market.
"This crude oil will possibly go to Italy or Germany," Yildiz said in comments broadcast live on TRT television, adding the cargo was about 1.05 million barrels.
(Reporting by Isabel Coles, additional reporting by Seda Sezer in Istanbul, editing by William Hardy)
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