Minister: Iraq to Raise Oil Output to 3.4 Million Barrels by Early 2001
Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rashid said Monday that Iraq hoped to raise crude output to around 3.4 million barrels per day (bpd) by spring 2001, reiterating that it was adopting a maximum production policy.
"We are hoping that the equipment we expected in September will arrive in January or February. This would bring us up to 3.3 million bpd or perhaps 3.4 million bpd in the spring of 2001," Rashid told the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES).
"We are adopting a maximum production policy. But if we have difficulties, if we have shortages, if we see attacks against us, then we have to adapt our production accordingly. There are always possibilities," Rashid said.
"We will probably continue at this (current) rate of 3.0 million bpd until January 2001," he told the specialist newsletter. "Everything depends on the approval and arrival of the equipment."
Rashid accused Washington of reverting to "its policy of putting many contracts on hold" and also slammed Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP), where Iraq's escrow oil accounts are kept.
"BNP has become a nuisance. They are creating a lot of obstacles on behalf of the Americans, in addition to the problems the Americans themselves create in the sanctions committee.
"BNP is creating delays in opening the letters of credit and all suppliers now are aware of it," Rashid said. "The fact is they want to keep the money and the Americans are pressurizing them because they are under their control."
Iraq, which has the second-largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, is allowed to purchase up to 600 million dollars worth of oil spare parts and equipment during each 180-day phase of the oil-for-food program.
But the UN sanctions committee continues to put holds on applications for supplies, which its members believe might have a military potential.
The director of the Iraq oil-for-food programme, Benon Sevan, told the UN Security Council on September 21 that 503 contracts in the oil sector, worth a total of 266 million dollars, had been placed on hold.
Almost all the holds are ordered by the United States or Britain.
Iraq's oil production in August rose by 560,000 barrels a day (bpd) to 3.0 million bpd, of which 2.4 million bpd were exported under the UN oil-for-food program and 600,000 bpd were used for domestic consumption or cross-border trade - NICOSIA (AFP)
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