Saudi Arabia hails Iraq's return to world oil markets

Nov 17, 2003 01:00 AM

Saudi Arabia is pleased to see Iraq return to the world oil markets after years of disruption through war and embargo, Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said after overnight talks with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum.
"Saudi Arabia is pleased to see Iraq return to the international oil market in the interests of the people and the prosperity of this brother country, as well as an active member of OPEC," Al-Naimi said.

Iraq, which boasts the world's second largest oil reserves after Saudi, has not been restricted by the OPEC quota system since UN sanctions were imposed for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraq's return to the quota system may pose a serious problem for several countries including Saudi Arabia, which has benefited from a high quota to make up the shortfall.
Despite the end of the UN embargo following the fall of the Baath regime in April, Iraq has failed to reach anywhere near its pre-1990 production level of more than 3 mm bpd. Iraqi production continued its upward trend with 1.15 mm bpd of Basrah Light exports and 400,000 bpd of deliveries to domestic refineries during October.

Iraqi output increased 150,000 bpd during the month to 1.55 mm bpd, but that was a slowdown in the speed of growth after increases of 350,000 bpd in both September and August.
The two ministers had looked at "the situation on the oil market in the short and long term and the cooperation of (OPEC) member states to ensure the stability of the markets," Naimi said. They also reviewed bilateral oil and commercial contacts including visits by experts, training and investments.

Bahr al-Ulum was to discuss with Naimi the prospects of reopening an oil pipeline running from Iraq to Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast in an effort to boost Iraqi oil exports, an Iraqi official had said.
Saudi officials reported in mid-October that the pipeline is in no condition to be used and suggested that the kingdom would not entertain the idea of exporting Iraqi crude through it. Bahr al-Ulum was to visit Doha on Monday before travelling on to Iran and Kuwait on his first regional tour.

Source: AFP
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