IEA Will Convene If Baghdad Balks

Thursday, October 26, 2000
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said it would convene immediately to respond if Iraq halts 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in exports and warned such a move by Baghdad would rattle oil markets. "I think we would immediately come together to decide what to do," IEA Executive Director Robert Priddle said. He was speaking hours after an Iraqi source told Reuters Baghdad is likely to suspend oil sales worth five percent of world crude exports from November 1 if Washington objects to a plan by Baghdad that it be paid in euros rather than dollars. The head of the West's energy watchdog said a disruption of Iraq's exports would rattle the oil market, which is already locked in a relentless price rally. "Iraq has 2.3 million barrels. That would be a significant shock to the market if it were all lost," he said. Priddle stressed that other oil producers have indicated they would step in and pick up the slack if Iraq halts exports. "But remember too that first of all Iraq wants its revenues. Second, that other producers have said they would seek to respond if there were interruptions. So others would make good any loss in supply," Priddle said. He said the IEA could also take action to fill in any supply gaps. "We are confident we can reply. Our members have got stocks and they are ready to draw down supplies," said Priddle. Priddle also predicted that oil prices would not fall sharply if OPEC raises production by 500,000 barrels per day under a price stability mechanism due to be triggered by Monday. He said oil markets would need proof of actual new barrels before cooling down from blistering prices that hit decade highs in the mid $30 a barrel this month. "I think the market would, like us, be a bit reserved, waiting to see what actually came onto the market. So I wouldn't expect that (a OPEC hike) to have a dramatic price effect," he said. Priddle said Saudi Arabia had the ability to unleash a significant number of crude barrels into the market under an OPEC supply increase.

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