Baghdad on Friday accused the UN sanctions committee of blocking exports of Iraqi crude after refusing Iraq's proposal for a new pricing programme for December.
A "refusal by oil customers to lift Iraqi crude is because of the rejection by the UN sanctions committee (of the price formula), and the US and British representatives on the committee are responsible for that," the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement.
The statement did not confirm or deny claims by a spokeswoman for Turkey's state oil and gas company, Botas, that Iraq had halted its oil shipments through the Turkish port of Ceyhan late Thursday.
That news brought an immediate rise in the price of crude oil, with North Sea Brent hitting 32.19 dollars in early trading in London, up from 31.88 dollars at Thursday's close.
"The oil ministry urges UN oil officials to open dialogue to make them understand these truths," said the statement, carried by the official INA news agency.
"Iraq is determined not to abandon its rights and remain fixed to its stance" on the new pricing formula, it said.
Iraqi officials are demanding that buyers for their crude pay a surcharge of 50 US cents per barrel, and that the extra money be paid in to banks not controlled by the United Nations.
The UN sanctions committee, which is responsible for setting the price under which Iraq sells its oil, has refused, arguing that such an increase would be contrary to the sanctions regime put in place after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Iraq, which has the world's second-biggest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia, has been exporting an estimated 2.4 million barrels of oil a day, almost all of it through the Turkish terminal.
Walid Khadduri, editor of the authoritative Nicosia-based Middle East Economic Survey (MEES), said that exports had also stopped from the Iraqi port of Mina al-Bakr.—AFP.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)