Iraq Calls for Cut in OPEC Output, Blames Saudi for Price Slide
The Iraqi government has called for OPEC to cut output and blamed Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for the current slide in prices, the official news agency INA reported Tuesday.
The cabinet, after a meeting chaired by President Saddam Hussein late Monday, urged OPEC "to take measures to counter the current fall in prices by cutting production to soak up the losses of the cartel's member countries."
Saudi Arabia, the world's top producer and exporter, and Kuwait were "behind this fall" in prices after injecting "enormous amounts of oil on the market" under US pressure, it charged.
Iraq, which is under sanctions and exempted from OPEC's quota system, suspended oil exports for 12 days in a dispute with the United Nations over a pricing formula for its crude before resuming limited deliveries on December 13.
A UN sanctions committee on Iraq, which has been under embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, is expected Tuesday to approve a new Iraqi pricing formula for exports through the second half of December, diplomats in New York said.
Baghdad is authorized to export crude under a UN oil-for-food program in return for imports of essential goods.
OPEC countries raised production four times over the past year, in an attempt to lower prices that had reached their highest level in 10 years at more than 35 dollars per barrel.
But prices have dipped since the start of December. On Monday, OPEC said its basket oil price, used to help set output, had fallen to 22.92 dollars -- close to the bottom of its target band of 22-28 dollars.
The 11-member oil cartel is now expected to cut production at its next meeting in January if oil prices continue to fall -- BAGHDAD (AFP)
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