LONDON/BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) – A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan is just two days away from arriving at a U.S. port, according to ship tracking satellites, despite Washington's long-standing concern over independent oil sales from the autonomous region.
The United Kalavrvta tanker, which left the Turkish port of Ceyhan in June carrying oil delivered via a new Kurdish pipeline, is due to dock in Galveston, Texas on Saturday, Reuters AIS Live ship tracking shows.
A sale of Kurdish crude oil to a U.S. refinery would infuriate Baghdad, which sees such deals as smuggling, and raises questions about Washington's commitment to preventing oil sales from the autonomous region.
Washington has expressed fears that independent oil sales from Kurdistan could contribute to the break-up of Iraq as the government in Baghdad struggles to contain Sunni Islamist insurgents that have captured vast swathes of the country.
But it also has grown frustrated with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's handling of the crisis.
Washington has pressured companies and governments not to buy crude from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), but it has stopped short of banning U.S. firms from buying it outright.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has renewed its push for an independent state amid the latest violence roiling Iraq. Its relationship with Baghdad has deteriorated over what it sees as Maliki's role in stoking the crisis and over the long-running dispute over oil sales.
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