oil tanker
Still image from video taken by a U.S. Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft shows the oil tanker United Kalavyrta.(Reuters/US Coast Guard)

US-based asphalt maker Axeon has confirmed it imported a cargo of Iraqi crude oil in June.

The company told Reuters news agency it received the Kurdish Shaikan cargo at its Paulsboro refinery in New Jersey just weeks before Iraq's central government filed a lawsuit over Kurdistan's oil sales.

"We purchased this cargo on a delivered Paulsboro, New Jersey, basis from a reputable supplier," a company official said, as quoted by Reuters.

A different cargo of Kurdish crude was heading for the US state of New Jersey in early August aboard the Minerva Joy tanker, but the company did not say whether it will purchase the shipment which is due to arrive on 11 August.

Baghdad has launched a lawsuit against Turkey, accusing Ankara of assisting the Kurds to smuggle oil out of Iraq. It has threatened to pursue legal action against governments if they assist the Kurds with selling the oil.

Reuters reported that two earlier shipments of Kurdish crude went to the LyondellBasell refinery in Houston, Texas.

A further tanker had looked set to deliver a shipment to Texas, but stopped short of the shoreline amid a legal challenge from Baghdad.

The United Kalavrvta tanker, thought to be carrying around 1 million barrels of crude, has remained anchored off the coast in international waters.

LyondellBasell told Reuters that it had purchased some "modest quantities" of "Iraqi crudes" but that it would not make any more purchases in light of the legal dispute.

Baghdad has clashed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over the right to sell oil on international markets.

The semi-autonomous region has sought to boost its autonomy from Baghdad by selling oil independently of Iraq's central government.