The Financial Times published an article saying that Israel has received as much as 75% of its imported oil from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in recent months.
Israeli refineries have imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between May and August. This would be worth almost $1 billion based on international prices over the period.
Brokered by several large oil trading companies, more than a third of all the oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan during May to August, were shipped to Israel.
Fighting ISIS, Housing Refugees
For over a year, the KRG has been defending northern Iraq against the so-called Islamic State. In a region that is already strapped for cash, the fight against the radical terrorists has cost the Kurdistan Regional Government millions of dollars.
The cost of the war against ISIS also includes the rising cost of refugees seeking safe haven in one of the only religiously and ethnically tolerant governments in the region.
The KRG reports that refugees now comprise of over 25% of Iraqi Kurdistan’s population.
Resolving the Budget Crisis
In recent months, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq has struggled to sell its oil for a profit. Since December, the KRG had agreed to send nearly 500,000 bpd to Baghdad, but after months of underpayment, the KRG pulled out of the deal, and has looked to other buyers.
For their part, the Kurds in Iraq are more concerned about money flowing in, than where the oil is ending up. Said a senior Kurdish government adviser,
We do not care where the oil goes once we have delivered it to the traders.
The Financial Times reports that the KRG has not only sold oil to Israel, but has also sold to refineries in Italy, Greece, and Turkey.
A Lifeline for Kurdistan
The money from Israel is providing a lifeline for the Kurds in Erbil. With the oil revenue, they can now afford to pay their Peshmerga soldiers to fight ISIS, and to pay civil servants who are working to create a new Kurdish constitution.
A report earlier this month quoted an official as saying that Israel was set to receive oil from the Kurds as part of a larger strategy to strengthen ties with the Kurdish region in Iraq.[Read more at Financial Times]