Revenue from Iraq's UN-controlled oil exports is expected to reach $5.8 billion in the 180 days ending June 3, the office administering the oil-for-food program said Tuesday, May 1.
The forecast is well below the $9.7 billion earned in the previous 180-day phase of the program, and follows a two-month slump in sales in December and January caused by a row with the UN over pricing.
The volume of Iraqi oil exports was stable last week, totaling 14.6 million barrels, an average of 2.08 million barrels a day, the office said in its weekly update. The average price of Iraqi crude slipped slightly from 21.99 a barrel to $21.78 (24.22 euros) a barrel, and Iraq raised an estimated 354 million euros in revenue, it added said.
In the week to April 27, there were 11 loadings, six at Iraq's Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr and five at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, the only two outlets authorized under UN sanctions imposed on Iraq in August 1990.
Iraq has exported 210 million barrels of crude since December 6, the start of the current phase of the program. Revenue in this phase—the ninth since the oil-for-food program was set up in December 1996—is so far estimated at 4.6 billion euros.
"The foreseen revenue for Phase Nine is about 6.4 billion euros or $5.8 billion, calculated at 290 million barrels of oil at current prices," the office said. In Phase Eight, Iraq exported a total of more than 376 million barrels of oil for revenue estimated at over $9.7 billion.
But at the start of the current phase, Iraq halted all oil sales for more than two weeks.
Exports increased sporadically after that but did not rise to their previous levels until mid-March, since when they have sometimes hit unusual highs. Last week's volumes were close to the average for the past two years.
One new purchase contract for one million barrels of Kirkuk crude was approved last week by the UN oil overseers and the sanctions committee, the office said. So far in Phase Nine a total of 158 contracts have been approved for a total of more than 483 million barrels of oil; with 210 million barrels already lifted, and total exports for the phase forecast at 290 million barrels, the remaining 193 million barrels could be carried over into Phase Ten if the UN Security Council agrees.
A total of 71 percent of Iraq's oil revenues is available for imports of food, medicine and other necessities under the program, set up to alleviate the impact of sanctions on the Iraqi people. Since March last year, 1,800 applications for more than $4.4 billion worth of humanitarian supplies have been approved by "fast-track" procedures which eliminate the need for vetting by the sanctions committee.
Another 190 contracts for $126 million worth of oil industry spare parts and equipment have also been fast-tracked, the office said. But members of the sanctions committee—notably the United States and to a lesser extent Britain—continue to block contracts, usually on the grounds that the goods might be diverted to military uses by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The total value of contracts placed on hold by the committee now stands at $3.16 billion, the office said. Of the total blocked, 1,161 contracts worth $3.16 billion were for humanitarian supplies and 549 contracts worth $442 million were for oil industry spare parts and equipment.
Last week, the committee released holds on 41 applications including contracts to import trucks, bulldozers, chlorine boosting and grain pumps, and placed new holds on 38 contracts for gas turbines, medical equipment, cranes and a water treatment plant. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)