Iraq 'Resumes' Oil Exports

December 13, 2000

Iraq is reported to have resumed UN-monitored oil sales after a 12-day suspension of exports. An oil tanker chartered to India's national oil company began loading in the Iraqi Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr on Wednesday morning, according to United Nations officials. An Indian official said the company had not given in to Baghdad's demands for a premium paid directly to an Iraqi bank account, which would side-step UN controls on oil sales.

Iraq suspended oil sales at the beginning of the month after traders refused to make the special payment and the UN rejected Baghdad's December pricing formula, which was pitched below market rates to compensate for the direct fee. A BBC correspondent in the region, Barbara Plett, says it is not clear whether Iraq will exempt all oil companies from the surcharge.

'Discreet payments'

On Monday, Baghdad accepted another six-month extension of a UN-monitored oil-for-food programme, which allows it to sell oil to fund supplies of food, medicine and oil industry equipment.

But its renewed demands for the direct payment appeared to have been postponed the resumption of sales.

According to an industry newsletter, Iraq had been encouraged by discreet payments of at least 10 cents a barrel from several companies since October and would probably continue to receive that money.

Our correspondent says it is unclear whether Iraq will stick to its threat to boycott companies supplying countries it considers hostile, in particular the United States which buys about 750,000 barrels per day through third parties.

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