US to use Iraq oil sales to raise loans

The United States may decide to authorize the use Iraq’s future oil and gas revenues as collateral for loans to fund reconstruction projects in that country, a key trade group said on Wednesday.

    Edmund Rice, the president of the Coalition for Employment Through Exports, said his group was lobbying a proposal to use oil revenues amounting to about $ 3 billion a year as security to borrow money from commercial banks for projects in Iraq.

    “We have received strong support from the administration for this proposal,” Rice said.

    The Coalition for Employment Through Exports is among the key players engaged in work in Iraq, besides oil giant Halliburton and engineering firm Bechtel.

    Rice said using future oil and gas revenues as collateral could answer Iraq’s urgent need for funds and would also ease the pressure on Washington.

    “There really are very limited options for sustaining the reconstruction financially,” Rice cautioned.

    Some estimates suggest Iraq’s reconstruction could cost $ 20 billion annually for several years.

    America’s Export-Import Bank has also said it was looking closely at the option of using future oil revenues as collateral.

    “This is one proposal that a lot of people are interested in and a main focus of the bank,” the bank’s spokesman Bo Ollison said.

    Much of Iraq’s reconstruction work are being carried out by US firms, with contracts being handed out either by the US military or the US Agency for International Development.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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