Iraq will be ‘big player’ at OPEC meet: US diplomat

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, December 13, 2009 16:49 EDT
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Iraq will be a “big player” at OPEC’s meeting in Angola later this month over its allocated crude production quota following a string of deals with oil majors, a senior US embassy official said on Sunday.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Luanda on December 22 will come shortly after Baghdad set ambitious output targets at a Friday-Saturday auction of Iraqi oil field contracts to foreign energy companies.

“They’re going to have to negotiate with their OPEC partners on that one,” the official at the embassy in Baghdad told reporters, on condition of anonymity, referring to Iraq’s production aims and its OPEC quota.

“They’re going to be a big player that wants to come back to the table, so they’re going to have to negotiate with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela and the other OPEC members.”

Iraq currently produces around 2.5 million barrels of oil per day (bpd).

But after awarding seven contracts to foreign energy firms at the auction, following three more deals sealed since a first auction in June, it aims to ramp up output to 12 million bpd within seven years.

Since economic sanctions of the Saddam Hussein era after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq has been the only OPEC member not bound by the OPEC quota system and the cartel’s overall output ceiling of 24.84 million bpd.

The US official added there was still time for OPEC to reach accord on Iraq’s quota, as it would be several years before the country will be in position to hike output to its targeted levels.

“This isn’t like suddenly tomorrow (Iraq is) going to be producing 12 million barrels,” the official said.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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