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Iraqi Kurdish oil tanker to be seized by US authorities

Kurdish oil tanker Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The oil tanker arrived off the coast of Texas on Saturday but was too large to enter ports near Houston

A tanker carrying $100m (£59m) of Iraqi Kurdish oil is set to be seized by US marshals on Tuesday.

The tanker - carrying an estimated one million barrels of oil - arrived off the coast of Texas on Saturday but had yet to be unloaded.

A US judge approved the seizure request which was sent from the Iraqi government overnight on Monday.

Tensions between the Iraqi government and the autonomous Kurdish region have been raised recently.

Earlier in July, Iraqi Kurds took over two oilfields in northern Iraq amid a growing dispute with the government in Baghdad.

The decision by the judge to allow for the seizure is a blow to to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which has been attempting to establish its own oil sales as one step towards negotiating for eventual independence.

Chasing shipments

Following the seizure approval, the Iraqi government warned any potential buyers of Kurdish oil that it would continue to work to prevent Kurdish oil deliveries.

"The ministry will keep chasing any shipments in future to legally target any buyers and seize the crude shipments offered for sale," said Iraq oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad.

The US has opposed the KRG's efforts to sell oil out of fears that it could lead Iraq to split apart, but it has not yet banned US companies from buying oil from the KRG.

At least one cargo of Kurdish oil was delivered to an unidentified buyer in the US in May.

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