According to a report in "The Financial Times", in the past few months Israel has imported about three-quarters of the oil it consumes from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. It has thus provided cash to the Kurds to support their fight against Isis.
"The sales are a sign of Iraqi Kurdistan’s growing assertiveness and the further fraying of ties between Erbil and Baghdad, which has long harbored fears that the Kurds’ ultimate objective is full-scale independence from Iraq. 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. 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 FT report says.
According to the FT, Israeli refineries and oil companies imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between the beginning of May and August 11. The estimate is based on shipping data, trading sources and satellite tanker tracking. This would be worth almost $1 billion, on the basis of international prices over the period. The FT says that this is the equivalent of about 77% of average Israeli demand, which runs at roughly 240,000 barrels per day, and accounts for more than a third of all of the northern Iraqi exports.
Iraq has no official ties with Israel. The FT quotes a "senior Kurdish adviser" as saying, "“We do not care where the oil goes once we have delivered it to the traders. Our priority is getting the cash to fund our Peshmerga forces against Daesh [Isis] and to pay civil servant salaries.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 24, 2015
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