BAGHDAD--Iraq Vows to Resist US Pressure to Lift Oil Output : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Iraq Vows to Resist U.S. Pressure to Lift Oil Output

Story Filed: Wednesday, March 15, 2000 10:59 AM EST

BAGHDAD (March 15) XINHUA - A senior Iraqi official said Wednesday his country Iraq is determined to foil the U.S. scheme to pressure the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) into increasing oil output.

The U.S. sought to fluctuate oil prices in order to reap profits through speculation on the international oil market, said Oil Minister Amir Muhammad Rashid.

The U.S. has so far failed to secure concrete pledges from the OPEC members for a substantial rise in production in spite of furious lobbying, he said. "The worst that could happen will be a marginal increase that is not bound to flood the market or result in a price dive."

Saudi Arabia and Iran, two OPEC heavyweights, have agreed that oil producers should guarantee adequate and timely supplies for the good of the world's economy, hinting at a possible ease of current production curbs.

The curbs, imposed by both OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers since last year, have salvaged oil prices from below 10 U.S. dollars a barrel to above 30 dollars at present.

Iraq has claimed that it would not bow to the U.S. pressure on the OPEC members to raise oil production at the upcoming OPEC ministerial meeting on March 27 in Geneva.

The U.S.-led Western oil-consuming countries have urged OPEC members to lift production in the third quarter this year so as to drive down oil prices, which have been steadily hiking to some 35 dollars a barrel, the highest since November 1990.

On March 7, U.S. President Bill Clinton warned that OPEC members could face sliding demand and eventually less revenue if oil prices remain at the current high level.

However, Iraq deemed the oil price as "proper" and "acceptable" compared with those in the past 10 years except 1998, taking into consideration of the 25-30 percent inflation rate from 1990 to now, Rashid said.

He stressed that due to U.S. manipulation, oil prices in the world oil market fluctuated sharply from the end of 1997 to mid- 1999, when the oil output surged in an unjustifiable way and the prices once collapsed to as low as nine dollars a barrel.

Rashid will attend the annual OPEC ministerial meeting, which is to decide whether to enhance oil production to offset a shortage that now stands at more than 2 million barrels a day.

Second only to Saudi Arabia in oil reserves, Iraq produced 3 million barrels per day before U.N. imposed the crippling economic sanctions. It now produces 1.9 million barrels a day due to its dilapidated oil industry.

Following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq has been under severe U.N. sanctions and is allowed to use part of its oil exports revenue to buy humanitarian supplies for its people whose life was shattered by the hardships incurred from the sanctions.

Copyright ) 2000, Xinhua News Agency, all rights reserved.

-- (, March 15, 2000

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