Bahr al-Ulum was due to meet with Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi in Riyadh, said the spokesman, Assem Jihad.

  

Al-Ulum is expected to discuss with Nuaimi 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.

  

Saudi officials said in mid-October the pipeline was in no condition to be used and suggested that the kingdom was not keen on exporting Iraqi crude through it.

 

Tour

  

The minister's visit to Saudi Arabia is part of a regional tour that will also take him to Iran, Kuwait and Qatar to discuss oil product purchases and swaps and the reopening of the Iraq-Saudi pipeline among other issues.

  

In the Jordanian capital Amman, Bahr al-Ulum earlier on Friday met Jordanian Energy Minister Azmi Khreissat "on ways to remove hurdles obstructing the increase of exchanges between the two countries in the oil sector," he said.

 

First Iraqi oil shipment to Jordan
arrived by sea

The talks in Amman focussed on prospects for resuming Iraqi oil deliveries to Jordan by land after they were halted in March following the start of the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

  

The ministers also discussed Jordan's participation in the rehabilitation of damaged oil installations in Iraq and the opening of an Iraqi oil information office in Amman, similar to the special office for Iraqi electricity needs in the Jordanian capital.

 

In October, Jordan signed an agreement to buy 2.6 million barrels of Iraqi oil for its own consumption at a cost of more than $70 million in the first such deal since the US-led invasion on its neighbour.

 

The first Iraqi oil shipment by sea arrived on Thursday in Jordan, bringing in 900,000 barrels, according to the Iraqi oil ministry.

  

The oil was transported by sea from Iraq's oil port of Mina al-Bakr near the southern city of Basra to Aqaba in southern Jordan.

  

Before the US-led invasion,  Jordan took all its oil from Iraq, importing 5.5 million tonnes annually by road, half of it free and the other half at a preferential price.