Opec says it will cover any Iraq oil supply halt

LONDON Opec Secretary-General Alvaro Silva said yesterday the oil exporting group could cover any interruption in Iraqi supplies in the event of war, but poured cold water on talk of suspending output quotas.


Published: Sat 22 Feb 2003, 3:45 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 8:24 PM

The 11-member Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had long experience in compensating for volatile exports from Baghdad since the Gulf War, Silva said, and Opec's quota system was working well.

"The Organisation has been dealing with the problem of Iraq for the last 10 years, attending to Iraq's market when it was restricted under the oil-for-food deal," Silva told Reuters by telephone.

"This Iraq situation has been handled before and if it were to happen again the Organisation would be able to handle it."

Oil markets have soared 50 per cent in three months to $32 per barrel for international benchmark Brent as traders absorb the threat to Iraq's two million barrels per day of exports. A Gulf source said earlier this week that Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia would support a temporary suspension of quotas if an attack on Baghdad halts supplies from the world's eighth largest exporter. "This has not been discussed," Silva said in reference to the report. "The quota system is valid and the quota system is working and any modification requires consensus."

Saudi Arabia has the lion's share of the world's spare output capacity, and a senior Opec delegate has said it would be ready to pump at full tilt, even without an agreement in Opec to prevent a supply shock damaging the world economy.

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