Iraq's oil exports remained firm for the second consecutive week, reaching 16 million barrels in the week ending March 23, the office of the UN oil-for-food programme said Tuesday.
It said there were four loadings at Iraq's Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr and eight at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, the two outlets authorised under United Nations sanctions imposed on Iraq in August 1990.
"The average price of Iraqi crude during the week was approximately $19.46 or $21.71 euros a barrel," the office said. At an average of 2.28 million barrels a day, Iraq raised an estimated 347 million euros in revenue, it said in its weekly update.
The previous week, Iraq exported 17.9 million barrels of oil, ending a slump which began in early December because of a dispute with the Security Council's sanctions committee over pricing.
That figure, equal to 2.6 million barrels a day, was the highest since late October, when exports peaked at almost 2.8 million barrels a day.
Last week's sales brought the total volume exported in the current 180-day phase of the oil-for-food programme to 134.7 million barrels for revenue estimated at 2.9 billion euros. The phase, the ninth since the programme was set up in December 1996, has 10 weeks to run, to June 3.
Last month, the office said that unless exports returned to normal, revenue in this phase could fall to $3.5 billion (3.9 billion euros), a level not seen since 1998.
For most of the past two years, Iraq's official exports have averaged a little over 2.1 million barrels a day. Another 600,000 barrels a day are used for local consumption or cross-border trade, UN officials estimate.
Four new oil purchase contracts for a total of nine million barrels were approved last week by the UN oil overseers and the sanctions committee, the office said.
Currently, there are 133 approved contracts awaiting completion for more than 377 million barrels of oil.
A total of 71 percent of Iraq's oil revenues is available for imports of food, medicine and other necessities under the programme, set up to alleviate the impact of sanctions on the Iraqi people.
The value of contracts placed on hold by the sanctions committee grew by almost 40 million dollars last week and now exceeds $3.39 billion , the office said.
Of the total now blocked, 1,124 contracts worth $2.96 billion were for humanitarian supplies and 552 contracts worth $435 million were for oil industry spare parts and equipment.
During the week, 33 contracts worth $71.3 million were released from hold by the committee and 33 new contracts worth $112 million were put on hold for various reasons.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )