Osaka, Sept. 17 (Reuters): International oil majors are set to buy crude direct from Iraq for the first time in two years after Baghdad dropped its surcharge on UN supervised oil sales, an Iraqi oil official and Western company sources said today.
Baghdad’s bid to re-engage with top oil companies coincided with its announcement yesterday that it would permit the unconditional return of UN weapons inspectors.
There is speculation in oil industry circles that Iraq is renewing commercial ties with top oil companies as part of its campaign to prevent US-led military action against Saddam Hussein.
“There is contact now, especially with European oil companies about crude oil supplies,” a senior Iraqi oil official said.
“I can’t say whether we will sign today or tomorrow.” Renewed direct contracts are likely to boost Iraqi exports, now running at just a third of its 2.2 million barrels per day export capacity.