Iraq submits oil prices for US customers
Iraq halted oil exports at the Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr early on December 20th, according to a UN source. Traders were unsure whether Baghdad had ordered the stoppage, but reported that were no apparent technical problems to warrant the delay.
Four tankers were lined up at the port to lift Iraqi crude, one of which had been waiting since November 29th. Buyers had just been breathing a sigh of relief after Baghdad had ended a 12-day export stoppage on December 13th, while Iraqi oil sales from the Turkish port of Ceyhan have been on hold since November 30th, with traders not expecting a resumption until at least January.
UN diplomats also indicated on December 21st that Iraq’s proposed January Basrah Light crude prices are 10 cents a barrel lower than December prices, but are expected to meet with the approval of the sanctions committee.
Baghdad’s proposed prices for Kirkuk sales to US customers from late December through January are 45 cents a barrel lower than current prices, but should also be approved.
No January pricing scheme has been submitted for Asian markets, but Iraq’s proposed prices for European customers from late December to mid-January are seen as too low and will likely be rejected by the sanctions committee on December 21st.
Late on December 19th, the UN sanctions committee had rejected an Iraqi proposal to cut its December crude prices for European customers by 80 cents a barrel in an effort to resume loadings of its Kirkuk crude at Ceyhan.
Oil overseers indicated that recent price weaknesses in rival Russian Urals grade crude did not justify an 80-cent-a-barrel cut, but suggested that a 50-cent drop could be considered. SOMO quickly countered with an amended price proposal, which the U.N. is currently considering. - (oilnavigator)