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Re: US refiners buying overwhelming majority of Iraqi oil ex

Hypocrocy rules ..... best, felicity a.

  NICOSIA, Feb 5 (AFP) - The US market is snapping up most of
Iraq's UN-authorised oil exports while European and Asian end-users
are shying away from Iraqi crude, the Middle East Economic Survey
(MEES) reported on Monday.
   The Cyprus-based industry newsletter said that Iraq's oil
exports under a UN humanitarian programme were running at around one
million barrels per day (bpd), or under half the normal rate of 2.2
million bpd.
   "US refiners are buying the overwhelming majority of Iraqi oil
exports" through small companies and traders, said MEES, adding
however that precautions were being taken against the payment of
illegal surcharges to Baghdad.
   "The US firms demand a letter from the sellers that no surcharge
outside the UN's jurisdiction is being paid to the Iraqi
   MEES reported last week that Iraq, which has been under embargo
since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, had found customers for its oil
exports after lowering a surcharge which circumvents UN control of
its revenues.
   The Iraqi government decided on January 18 to cut the surcharge
from a flat 40 cents a barrel to between 25 and 30 cents, it said.
   "Major consuming countries are turning a blind eye to Iraq's
efforts to impose the surcharge, perhaps because Iraqi oil supplies
are needed in order to help bring world oil prices down," MEES
   It said US and British oil majors such as ExxonMobil, Texaco and
BP, whose countries take the hardest line on implementing the
sanctions regime on Iraq, had been purchasing Iraqi oil through
third parties, often small companies.
   Iraq suspended oil exports on December 1 after the United
Nations rejected its proposed pricing formula for the month. Sales
resumed on December 13, but at a slow rate.
   UN officials blamed the dispute on a Iraqi bid to charge less
than the market value for its oil, to offset a surcharge originally
set at 50 cents a barrel which it wanted customers to pay, in breach
of sanctions.
   Iraq is authorised to export crude -- with the revenues paid
into a UN escrow account -- to finance imports of humanitarian
   But MEES said there was "no end in sight to the disruption of
Iraqi oil exports" because oil majors were keeping away due to legal
complications linked to the surcharges and also because the Kirkuk
crude from northern Iraq was over-priced.
   Iraq was "determined to stick to the surcharge as another way of
eroding the sanctions" but had failed to win the backing of
supporters such as Russia, whose Energy Minister Alexander Gavrin
visited Baghdad last week, according to MEES.


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