Oil Minister: Iraq Scraps Plans to Hike Output by Year End
A shortage of equipment and spare parts has forced Iraq to abandon plans to raise its oil output to 3.4 million barrels a day by the end of the year, Oil Minister Amer Mohammed Rashid was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
Fresh from an OPEC meeting in Vienna, Rashid also warned the United States that releasing oil from its strategic stockpiles to tame skyrocketing prices will backfire and send the wrong signal to markets, said the AP.
"Iraq had plans to boost output to about 3.4 million barrels a day by the end of the year, but the non-availability of spare parts and materials prevents us from meeting the target on schedule," he said.
"America has built up its stockpiles to be able to meet an emergency or a catastrophe. Drawing from those inventories will give the signal that the situation (in oil markets) is catastrophic, spurring more speculation and higher prices," he said.
US lawmakers have repeatedly urged President Bill Clinton to draw on the reserves as a last resort to tame prices, currently near 10-year highs, according to the agency.
Rashid said he was unhappy with this weekend's agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries to raise output by 800,000 barrels a day effective October 1st in a bid to counter the steep rise in prices.
He said the latest "spikes" in prices were mainly caused by speculation, heavy taxation (by consumer countries), and political pressure on OPEC, particularly from the United States.
Iraq, though outside OPEC's production quota structure, advocates a hawkish stand on prices.
Its output and exports are conducted under the terms of the so-called oil-for-food program designed to alleviate the impact of the UN sanctions on ordinary Iraqis, said the agency - Albawaba.com
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