* Trafigura was blacklisted after buying Kurdish oil
* Iraq says it alone has legal right to export oil
* Traders say Trafigura supplying via little-known Sima
LONDON/DUBAI, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Trader Trafigura is still
indirectly supplying gasoline to Iraq through another firm, four
industry sources said, despite being blacklisted for dealing
with the Kurdistan region, at loggerheads with Baghdad.
Trafigura, which had been a major supplier of gasoline to
Iraq, declined to comment. Last year it had delivered as much as
60,000 tonnes a month, worth more than $65 million at current
Due to the size of Iraq's tenders, traders closely monitor
purchases by its State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) though
few have the logistical network and capability to turn sales
there into profitable business.
Trafigura was one of the few, but was banned from
participating in tenders for 2013 after buying Kurdish oil.
Accordingly, SOMO last November finalised its deal to buy
1.56 million tonnes of gasoline from a pool of suppliers that
excluded Trafigura. The contract was awarded to rival oil firms
Vitol and Glencore, along with oil major BP and trading company
But while Trafigura's name may not be on the suppliers list,
traders say, the Swiss firm is behind the gasoline supplies of
Sima, an Iranian-Azeri company registered in Fujairah with an
address in Dubai.
When asked whether gasoline from Trafigura's tanks was being
used to supply Iraq, officials at the state marketing firm said
they would not comment on rumours.
Traders say that a number of vessels delivering gasoline to
Iraq's southern Khor al Zubair terminal for Sima loaded their
cargoes from Trafigura's storage tanks at Jebel Ali in the
United Arab Emirates.
"Two vessels have been booked for January," said a gasoline
trader, listing tankers that loaded from Trafigura's storage and
had been booked by Sima for delivery to Iraq. "The High Current
and the UACC Al Medina."
Shiptracking data shows both vessels heading to Khor Al
Zubair from Jebel Ali over the past week and a second trading
source confirmed the two vessels were delivering gasoline to
Iraq for Sima.
A port document obtained by Reuters showed that High Current
was anchored at the Iraqi terminal on Jan. 30 with a 16,500
tonne cargo and had been chartered by Sima.
The delivery was due to be followed by the UACC Al Medina
arrival, scheduled for the start of February, according to ship
"It's a well-known secret that Trafigura back Sima's
deliveries to SOMO," said another gasoline trader. "Hardly a
secret really. "
Trafigura declined to comment on whether Sima's vessels had
loaded gasoline from its storage tanks and repeated calls to
Sima's office in Dubai were unanswered.
Operating in Iraq has become a balancing act for many
international oil firms caught between long-standing ties with
the south and new prospects offered in the north by Kurdistan's
Baghdad views independent exports from the Kurdish Regional
Government (KRG) as smuggling and any deals to produce oil
signed without its consent as illegal. The central government
says the state-owned marketer is the only body legally entitled
to export Iraqi oil.
But other buyers of Kurdish extra light oil condensate like
Vitol have faced few repercussions.
Iraq's oil minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi said Vitol had
apologised to the Iraqi government for buying Kurdish oil that
was exported via Turkey without Baghdad's permission.
Vitol remains on its list of partners this year for both the
supply of gasoline and gasoil products.
The ban on Trafigura was not intended to impact crude
contracts as like most trading houses, the Swiss-based firm is
not entitled to buy crude oil from Iraq as SOMO deals only with
Despite being OPEC's second largest crude oil producer,
years of violence, militant attacks and low investment have
forced Iraq to rely on imports to meet demand for oil products
fuel like gasoline as its own refineries struggle.
"Trafigura's Iraq business has been very important to them,"
a Turkey-based gasoline trader said.
"I wondered what they would do when they had problems with
Iraq. Then Sima appeared in the tender... it wasn't difficult to
figure out they were in close cooperation with Trafigura."
(Reporting by Jessica Donati and Humeyra Pamuk, editing by