Although Russia had received permission for a flight ban exemption from the U.N. sanctions committee for two humanitarian flights into Iraq, including one on September 17th, it did not notify the committee that included on the September 17th flight were 11 Russian oil experts, U.N. diplomats said on September 18th.
Some committee members said that while Moscow had notified the panel of the humanitarian goods that the plane would be carrying – including five tons of medicine – it failed to apprise the committee that Russian oil experts would also be traveling on the aircraft.
The official Iraq News Agency (INA) and a Russian radio station, Mayak, quoted Anold Bekker, head of Russia’s Stroytransgas pipeline company, as saying that the purpose of the trip was to conduct talks with Iraqi oil ministry officials as well as to make clear Moscow’s opposition to the U.N. flight ban.
Mayak said that the group of Russian oil experts was to discuss future projects to produce Iraqi crude and to supply equipment to Iraq’s ailing oil industry. A second Russian plane was granted permission to travel to Iraq later this week or next week. It is unclear whether the U.N. sanctions committee would act on the Russian transgression.
Also, Slaveneft Vice President Andrei Shtorkh said on September 18th that the Russia-Belarus oil firm will request permission from the U.N. in 2001 to begin working in Iraq if sanctions are not lifted by then. “Slaveneft not only wants to be among the first, but it wants to be the first [foreign] company to start producing oil [in Iraq],” Shtorkh said.
The Slavneft official said that his company was examining the possibility of developing oil from three deposits in Iraq and hoped to sign an agreement with Baghdad on one of them in early 2001.
( oilnavigator )