US asks UN to change Iraq's oil sales programme
Washington has asked the United Nations to change the way Iraqi crude is sold to cut down on the middlemen who have emerged since Iraq's decision to levy a surcharge, Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reported Monday.
"The United States has sent a letter to the sanctions committee seeking fresh ideas from the UN overseers on how to change the current Iraqi oil sales programme with a view to reducing the number of middlemen that have proliferated since December," the Cyprus-based industry newsletter said.
"Several proposals are under consideration, but it is unlikely they will secure the agreement of other members of the sanctions committee or the Iraqis," MEES said.
"The United States and Britain are also trying to stop the flow of Iraqi oil to Syria, but it is doubtful if they can succeed in doing so while turning a blind eye to the cross-border trade with Turkey and Jordan," it said.
Iraq increased oil production by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January as end users, mainly in the US market, started snapping up most of its UN-authorised oil exports through small companies and traders, who pay the surcharge.
Other end users in Korea, Singapore and, lately, Europe have also started buying Iraqi crude.
Iraq, which has been under embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, decided on January 18 to cut the surcharge, aimed at circumventing UN control of its revenues, from a flat 40 cents a barrel to between 25 and 30 cents, according to MEES.
Baghdad suspended oil exports on December 1 after the United Nations rejected its proposed pricing formula for the month. Sales resumed on December 13, but at a slow rate.
UN officials blamed the dispute on a Iraqi bid to charge less than the market value for its oil, to offset a surcharge originally set at 50 cents a barrel which it wanted customers to pay, in breach of sanctions.
Iraq is authorized to export crude -- with the revenues paid into a UN escrow account -- to finance imports of humanitarian supplies.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)