Kuwait says OPEC considering measures over Iraqi oil exports halt

Published December 3rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Kuwait said Friday it was discussing with other members of OPEC possible joint measures after Iraq's decision to halt its oil exports, the KUNA news agency reported. 

 

"Kuwait is in discussion with the other members of OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) to handle any negative effects that could be caused by the Iraqi decision to stop its crude exports," said Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah. 

 

"Kuwait keeps a constant watch on the stability of the oil price so as to avoid sudden increases of reductions (in production) which could be damaging to all the producer or consumer countries," Sheikh Saud told the press. 

 

"Iraq's decision to stop exports of crude represents yet one more act by the Iraqi regime aimed at increasing the suffering of the Iraqi people," he said. 

 

But Baghdad on Friday accused the UN sanctions committee of blocking exports of Iraqi crude after refusing Iraq's proposal for a new pricing system for December. 

 

An Iraqi oil ministry statement specifically blamed the British and US representatives for blocking its revised price proposal. 

 

Iraqi officials want buyers of their crude to 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. 

 

It says that such an increase would be contrary to the sanctions regime put in place after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 

 

Friday's statement from the Iraqi oil ministry did not confirm or deny claims by Turkey's state oil and gas company Botas that Iraq had halted 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 in early trading in London, up from $31.88 at Thursday's close. 

 

"The oil ministry urges UN oil officials to open dialogue to make them understand these truths," said the Iraqi statement, carried by the official INA news agency. 

 

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. 

©--Agence France Presse. 

 

© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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