ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Kurdistan reasserted its right to export oil independently to the United States and other countries on Tuesday despite a court ruling in favor of the Iraqi federal government, which has sought to block crude sales from the autonomous region.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans on Monday dismissed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s bid to overturn an earlier ruling against a planned sale of oil to an unidentified buyer in the U.S.
Iraq's federal government filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court last year to thwart the sale of the one million barrel cargo from the Kurdistan region in an ongoing dispute over the right to export oil.
The tanker was stuck off U.S. shores in legal limbo for six months before sailing to Israel where it was sold, rendering the Kurds' appeal moot, the court said in Monday's ruling.
Kurdistan's Ministry of Natural Resources however said in a statement on Tuesday that the ruling would force the Iraqi oil ministry to drop its "baseless" lawsuit.
"Although the KRG believes that the case should have been dismissed earlier, and for different reasons, the state of play remains the same: there is no prohibition on the KRG’s export of oil to the United States or elsewhere, and the KRG will continue to export hydrocarbons as the Iraqi constitution permits.”
A deal reached in December between Baghdad and the Kurds to resolve their dispute over oil export rights and revenue sharing has come apart in recent months. The Kurds have ramped up independent oil sales.
(Reporting by Isabel Coles, editing by William Hardy)