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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

One issue, which we've followed with interest, is Iraq's membership in OPEC. This is a particularly interesting issue because of how it affects and is affected by the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Reuters (via the New York Times) is reporting, for now, that Iraq intends to participate as a member of OPEC:

'Founder member Iraq's attendance at OPEC will bring further international credibility to Baghdad's U.S.-backed Governing Council, particularly in the Arab world.'

'It will also alleviate concerns in OPEC that an eventual sovereign Iraqi government, under U.S. influence, might exit the cartel and its system of output restraints, raising production from the world's second-largest reserves and undermining oil prices in years to come.'

We believe it would be a smart move on the part of the Bush administration to let Iraq determine its relationship with OPEC. So far, this appears to be happening. If the U.S. encouraged Iraq (which is a founding member of OPEC) to split with the cartel, then that could futher damage U.S. relations with the OPEC countries, many of which are in the Middle East. Of course, right now being a member of OPEC doesn't put any limits on Iraq's oil exports:

'Before the 1990-1991 Gulf war Iraq and Iran shared quota parity with production allocations of 3.14 million barrels a day. Iran now has a quota of 3.73 million barrels a day but Iraq is only pumping about 1.3 million barrels a day and may not need an output quota until it approaches pre-war capacity of three million barrels daily.'

It remains to be seen whether or not the golden egg (a production capacity greater than 3 million barrels a day) will cause the Iraqi administration to reconsider its position, or the U.S. occupation force to get greedy. Iraq's oil income is already being claimed by the U.S. to cover "reconstruction" costs, so this issue could factor into Iraq's future involvement with OPEC as well.

Andrew 10:13 AM : |


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