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Iraqi Oil Minister prefers US war allies

Published on 12/01/2004

12 January 2004

AMMAN – Countries that supported the war to topple Saddam Hussein would to be given preference for contracts to develop Iraqi oilfields, the Iraqi oil minister indicated on Monday.

Ibrahim Bahr al-Oloum made the remarks in an interview with the London-based Arabic daily “Asharq al-Aswat” apparently referring to his ministry’s intention to award contracts to US allies.

He said that he also expected Iraq to reach the pre-war crude oil output of 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) at the end of March.

“The Oil Ministry is currently evaluating the contracts for the development of Iraqi oilfields which were concluded by the deposed regime,” the minister said.

“We will focus on the interest of the Iraqi people so as to pay attention to the political attitudes of countries … we will have reservations on countries which did not extend a hand to the people of Iraq,” he added.

The Iraqi oil minister was alluding to contracts concluded with Russian oil firms as well as to preferential treatment accorded to French and German firms by Saddam’s regime.

Russia, France and Germany opposed the war the United States and Britain launched on Iraq last March, saying the hostilities were conducted outside the jurisdiction of the United Nations.

Bahr al-Oloum put Iraq’s oil production at the start of January at 2.3 million bpd. He said the country’s crude exports averaged at 1.554 million bpd in December.

“We hope to restore the pre-war production level of 2.8 million bpd by the end of March,” he added.

“However, we aspire for an output level of 5-6 million bpd by the end of the decade,” he said.

The Iraqi oil minister said that the bulk of Iraqi crude oil was being currently exported through the Basra terminals.

“But we hope we can make use of the Turkish pipeline in the near future after acts of sabotage forced its closure for the past few months,” he added.

Subject: German news