Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) — Chemicals firm LyondellBasell, owned by Ukraine-born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, appears to be the mystery American buyer of two cargoes of Kurdish crude delivered in May, according to U.S. government data and industry sources.
Nearly two months prior to this week’s standoff between the central government of Iraq and Kurdistan over a tanker near Texas with $100 million of Kurdish crude, a smaller ship with Kurdish oil discharged its cargo of heavy, sour Shaikan crude in Houston without any legal tangles, Reuters had reported.
A second ship arrived later in May, data show. The ultimate buyer of those cargoes had remained a mystery – until now.
According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration released on Wednesday, Houston Refining LP, owned by LyondellBasell, imported two cargoes of what was labeled Iraqi crude that match the size of the May shipments and had the distinct quality specifications of Kurdish Shaikan.
The data show two shipments of 266,000 and 267,000 barrels of crude oil, both with 4.6 percent sulfur content, far higher than typical Iraqi imports but in line with the Kurdish Shaikan variety, according to market sources familiar with the oil.