Iraq sues MMS

Iraq has taken legal action against Greece’s Marine Management Services (MMS) over its role in an allegedly illegal export of crude from the autonomous Kurdistan region.

The Marshall Islands-flagged 159,156-dwt United Kalavryta (built 2005) has been anchored off the Texas coast since July, carrying $100m worth of crude.

Two more ships have been previously reported as loading cargo from the controversial region; the 159,000-dwt United Leadership (built 2005) and the 161,000-dwt United Emblem (built 2010).

According to Baghdad’s oil ministry, there are five vessels operated by MMS which have transported crude oil on behalf of the KRG.

As Reuters reported, the ministry’s statement said: “MMS is liable for damages of at least $318m, and possibly significantly more, as a result of its willing and active participation in the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) illegal crude oil export scheme.”

United Kalavryta was thought to have turned off its tracking systems for almost a week, before reappearing on Tuesday.

Last week, a US court said that it does not have any jurisdiction to arrest the tanker and seize its cargo.

However, Iraq had vowed to fight on and said legal action could be taken against any third party involved.

One possible buyer has been hesitant in moving forward with the purchase of the cargo while a Malaysian company said it would not commence any lightering operations.

The Athens-based company was not immediately available for a comment.