OPEC: Firm stand on Iraq
Until an internationally recognised government took charge, Iraq would not be invited for its meetings, an OPEC source said on Wednesday. 

 

The cartel plans to meet on 11 June in Qatar to consider cuts in oil supply to make room for a resumption of Iraqi exports.

    

According to a United Nations resolution passed last week, the United States and Britain will occupy the war-torn Arab country until an internationally recognised government is established "by the people of Iraq."

   

Baghdad is a founding member of OPEC but has been excluded from the 11-member cartel's quota system since United Nations sanctions were imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

 

No Iraqi pullout

    

Some US-backed Iraqi exiles and US officials have hinted that Iraq may wish to leave OPEC to avoid any restrictions on its oil output. But Iraqi oil officials have opposed this, stressing the country's need for substantial revenues from oil.

 

Iraq's de facto oil minister Thamir Ghadhban said the question of whether Iraq might pull out of OPEC is not currently on the agenda of the US-appointed administration running the country.

   

"Iraq is a founder member of OPEC and Iraq has been a member for the last four decades...We really don't have any problem with OPEC," director of the Oil Ministry Thamir Ghadhban said.

 

Iraq produces as much oil as at the moment because it only has only a limited capacity. It could take more than a year for the country to reach the level of production needed to meet any likely export quota set by OPEC, sources said.

 

Ghadhban said recently that Iraq would be back in the global oil market within two to three weeks, after 13 years of sanctions were lifted last Thursday by the UN Security Council.

 

"It will take a few weeks but we should be producing 1.3 to 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by the middle of next month," Ghadhban said. Iraq was producing 2.5 million bpd before the US-led invasion of the country.