Iraq's Oil Minister Amer Rashid on Tuesday slammed Saudi Arabia for considering an oil production hike of 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) to bring down prices.
"Saudi Arabia's position is astonishing and reprehensible," Rashid said after talks with his Pakistani counterpart Usman Aminuddin. Iran also criticized the kingdom’s plan.
"We condemn this position adopted by Saudi Arabia. This unilateral position is contrary to the charter of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)," Rashid charged.
"It is true that US pressure is exerted on Saudi Arabia but it has to take into consideration the interests of its people, the Arabian Peninsula and (other) producing countries.
"The interests of consumer countries also have to be taken into consideration... but not to serve the interests of the American administration," the minister said.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali Nuaimi said Monday that the kingdom will increase "very soon" its oil production if prices remained high.
Iraq is an OPEC member but exempted from production quotas because of the embargo in force since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It is authorized to export crude under UN supervision to finance imports of essential goods.
The sanctions-hit country currently exports 3.1 million bpd, 2.5 million bpd of which is under the oil-for-food program, but hopes to hike production to "3.3 or 3.4 million bpd before the end of the year", according to Rashid.
Meanwhile, Iran Tuesday blasted Saudi Arabia's intention to hike its oil production.
"There is no reason to violate OPEC agreements," the state news agency IRNA quoted an unidentified Iranian oil ministry official as saying, in reference to the oil cartel's decision to raise output by 700,000 bpd.
The move had no impact on world prices, Nuaimi said Monday, "If prices do not come down, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in concert with the other producer countries, will increase production by 500,000 barrels per day very soon from now."
“When a substantial increase in OPEC production is decided, there is no justification in violating this accord by a unilateral gesture," the Iranian official said.
Iran, a hawk among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said Saturday it was increasing its output by 104,000 bpd in line with the OPEC agreement – (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)