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Kuwaiti Minister Says It Will Take Three Years To Restore Oil Output

March 9, 1991

MINA ABDULLAH, Kuwait (AP) _ Kuwait’s oil minister said today it will take at least three years to fully restore the emirate’s sabotaged oil production. He said Kuwait’s Arab neighbors should supply its international customers meanwhile.

As a result of the Persian Gulf War, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will probably pay more heed to the interests of the United States and other Western nations, Oil Minister Rasheed Al-Amiri predicted. Both Kuwait and Iraq are members of the oil-producing cartel.

Standing in front of the burned-out pumping station at the Mina Abdullah Refinery, under clouds blackened by the fires, he said the Iraqis destroyed between 80-85 percent of Kuwait’s oil wells.

More than 600 oil wells were set on fire and 6 million barrels of oil worth $120 million are evaporating in acrid black smoke every day, he said.

Several days ago, officials from the Kuwaiti Oil Company said that no more than 3 million barrels a day were being burned off at the estimated 800 wells damaged by the Iraqis.

There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

In his remarks today, the oil minister said, ″To put out the fires, maybe it will take at least one to two years, and to put them in operation, maybe you will need another year or year and a half.″

Al-Amiri said Kuwait’s main concern is to gain compensation from the Iraqis.

″How it will be done, it’s premature to decide now. But they can give us their oil. They can sell their oil and the consumer pay us directly. There are many ways of doing it, but our main concern really is to get the compensation,″ he said.

He blamed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein not only for ravaging Kuwait’s oil facilities, but for making the entire region suffer the pollution.

Kuwait is now importing crude and refined products to meet local needs. The minister also said it is using petroleum products that were stored in the country.

To run its Q8 gas station chain in Europe, he said, ″We are importing all kinds of products.″

But the minister said Kuwait intends to meet its OPEC export quota of 1.5 million barrels per day with help from other countries.

″We have an agreement between the gulf countries. If a gulf country in the Gulf Cooperation Council were unable to produce, then the other countries can produce extra in order to meet the requirement,″ he said.

″So we will be talking with Saudi Arabia and the (United Arab) Emirates to produce on our behalf,″ he said.

The Cooperation Council comprises Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Asked if Kuwait would pay its gulf neighbors for the oil, the minister said, ″This is like a loan. It can be paid in the future.″

He added that the United States, Britain and France ″must have a say definitely to protect their interests″ in the cooperation council. He said he expected the United States to gain influence.

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