Iraqi oil exports still depressed, UN stats show
Iraq exported a total of 10.2 million barrels of crude last week under UN supervision, far below its capacity, the office administering the oil-for-food programme said Tuesday.
Last week was the half-way point in the current 180-day phase of the programme that began on December 6. In this phase -- the ninth since the start of the programme in December 1996 -- Iraq has so far exported 100.8 million barrels of oil for revenue estimated at 2.18 billion euros ($1.99 billion ), the office said.
In the previous full phase, Iraq exported 372 million barrels for revenue estimated at $9.713 billion. Iraq stopped exporting oil for about seven weeks on November 30, amid a dispute with the UN Security Council's Iraqi sanctions committee over the pricing formula for December.
Sales resumed in January, but they remain depressed and the office has warned that unless they return to normal, revenue in the current phase could fall to $3.5 billion, the lowest since 1998.
A total of 71 percent of Iraq's oil revenues is available for imports of food, medicine and other necessities under the programme, which was set up to alleviate the impact of UN sanctions on the Iraqi people.
Last week's exports were equivalent to 1.5 million barrels a day and raised revenue estimated at 213 million euros ($195 million), the office said.
For most of the past two years, Iraq's official exports have averaged a little over 2.1 million barrels a day, with a peak of almost 2.8 million barrels a day during one week in October 2000.
About another 600,000 barrels a day are used for local consumption or in cross-border trade, UN officials estimate.
Five new oil purchase contracts for a total of about 10 million barrels were approved last week by the UN oil overseers and the sanctions committee, the office said.
Currently, there are 121 approved contracts awaiting completion for more than 343 million barrels of oil.
The value of contracts placed on hold by the sanctions committee increased by almost 30 million dollars last week and now stands at 3.35 billion dollars, the office said.
Of the total now blocked, 1,104 contracts worth $2.92 billion were for humanitarian supplies and $554 contracts worth $427 million were for oil industry spare parts and equipment.
During the week, 21 contracts worth $21 million were released from hold by the committee and 37 new contracts worth 50.8 million were put on hold for various reasons.
They included orders for computers, cranes, fire-fighting vehicles, water tankers, turbine and compressor blades and a sprinkler irrigation system.
Members of the sanctions committee -- notably the United States and Britain -- have blocked contracts, often on the grounds that the requested supplies had a potential military dual use.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)