Minister Demands Equal OPEC Quota With Iran With AM-Energy Talks
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iraq is again demanding an OPEC oil production quota equal that of Iran, its Persian Gulf war foe, the Middle East Economic Survey reported Monday.
Issam Abdul-Rahim, Iraq’s new oil minister, was quoted as saying in an interview with the respected Nicosia-based oil weekly: ″Our position has been and will remain: Iraq’s quota should not be a single barrel less than the quota alloted to Iran as long as the war is going on.
″We have sacrificed a lot in the past and we are not ready to make any sacrifices,″ Abdul-Rahim stressed.
He said Iraq will press its demand at the next meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna June 25 ″if the issue is raised then.″
The weekly quoted Abdul-Rahim as saying Iraq currently produces more than 2 million 42-gallon barrels a day. The survey quoted industry sources as pegging Iraqi production in April at an average 2.083 million barrels a day.
But that output is expected to increase by 500,000 barrels a day when a new Iraqi-Turkish pipeline is completed in the fall, Abdul-Rahim was quoted as saying.
That means Iraq’s expected average production for this year would still be below its ″fair quota -- a fair quota for Iraq being at least on a par with the quota alloted to Iran,″ the minister was quoted as saying.
Iraq was excluded from a production cutback agreement reached by OPEC in Geneva last December in a bid to push oil prices up after last’s year’s slump.
The production ceiling for the other 12 members of the cartel was set at a total of 15.8 million barrels a day.
Iran’s quota was set at 2.374 million barrels a day. OPEC sought to limit Iraq’s production to 1.543 million barrels a day for this year.
Iraq, insisting that its quota equal Iran’s, declined to sign the agreement and was allowed a free hand to produce what it wanted.
Monday’s report followed a declaration by the United Arab Emirates’ Oil Minister, Mana Saeed Oteiba, last week that his country will seek a higher production quota at the Vienna meeting.
The U.A.E. will be compelled to ignore its OPEC quota of 902,000 barrels a day if a production increase is not granted, Oteiba said.
With prices stabilized at about $18 a barrel, OPEC’s target, there is a growing trend within OPEC seeking higher third-quarter quotas to a combined total of around 16.6 million barrels a day, the weekly reported.
It estimated OPEC production for April at 16.6-16.9 million barrels a day, with only Nigeria and Ecuador posting below-quota outputs.
Saudi Arabia, the main Arab producer, produced an average 4.1 million barrels a day, its quota level. But the weekly said Saudi output rose to 4.4 million barrels a day in early May.
Iraq and Iran, at war since September 1980, both depend on oil revenue to bankroll their war efforts.
Iraq, which ranks second in the Persian Gulf after Saudi Arabia in oil reserves, lost its gulf oil terminals after the war broke out.
Its exports now flow through a trans-Turkish pipeline to the Mediterranean and another pipeline to Saudi Arabia’s Yanbu terminal on the Gulf. Oil also is trucked through Jordan and Turkey.