Kurdish government in Iraq says its oil has left a Turkish port for Europe

ERBIL, Iraq, May 23 (UPI) --A tanker full of crude oil from the Kurdish region of Iraq left a Turkish port bound for European markets, the Kurdistan Regional Government said Friday.

"A tanker loaded with over one million barrels of crude oil departed last night from Ceyhan towards Europe," the semiautonomous KRG said in a statement. "This is the first of many such sales of oil exported through the newly constructed pipeline in the Kurdistan region."

A pipeline from the Kurdish north is sending oil to storage tanks in Ceyhan, a Turkish sea port. Exports of Kurdish oil, however, had been on hold because of the lingering stalemate between the Kurdish and central governments over who controls what in the Iraqi energy sector.

KRG said it was operating according to rules spelled out in the Iraqi Constitution and invited outsiders to observe the sales in an effort to highlight its commitment to transparency.

The Kurdish government says it has a legal right to export and sell its oil independent from Iraqi state-owned enterprises, but stressed its commitment to negotiate in good faith to find a compromise solution to oil issues in the country.

The central government in Baghdad says unilateral and independent operations in the Kurdish oil sector are illegal.

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