Iraq Plans to Renew Oil Tanker Fleet in S.Korea

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Iraq aims to rebuild its ageing fleet of tankers to carry its crude oil exports and is planning to form a joint venture shipping company with a South Korean firm, the oil ministry's spokesman said on Monday. Jihad said ownership of the fleet would be transferred to Iraq's oil ministry after a period that would be specified in the final agreement.

Other foreign companies had approached the ministry with offers to help rebuild Iraq's tanker fleet, which was crippled by decades of war and sanctions, Jihad said. Iraq's Oil Shipping Company, which used to transport crude oil from the country's oil terminals in the Gulf city of Basra to refining facilities around the globe, has been out of operation since 1980. Tankers now loading at Basra's terminal are foreign-owned.

On his visit to Seoul, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani signed a cooperation deal with South Korea's energy minister, Kim Young-joo, on broadening opportunities for South Koreans to secure oilfields in Iraq. Iraq, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has the world's third-largest proven oil reserves and needs billions of dollars to revive its oil sector, which is crucial for rebuilding its shattered economy. Shahristani said last week that a long-awaited draft oil law will be submitted to Iraq's parliament this week but Kurdish officials have rejected aspects of the emerging legislation. An oil law is vital for Iraq to attract investment from foreign firms to boost its oil output and rebuild its economy, but disputes that have dogged the process continue to simmer between regional and central governments. Source: Reuters

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