A U.S. District Court Judge has ordered the seizure of a vessel carrying about 1 million barrels of Kurdish crude oil about 60 miles off the Galveston coast.
The order follows a complaint filed by the Iraqi government, claiming the oil was smuggled out of Kurdistan without its permission. The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) have squabbled over oil rights for years.
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Amid a Sunni military offensive in Iraq, the Kurds have pushed into disputed territories including the oil-rich area of Kirkuk, fueling a decades-old dream of independence.
An Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman says the government welcomes the judge's order.
The U.S. has discouraged companies from buying oil directly from the Kurds In an effort to support Iraq's fragile central government.