An impasse in the Security Council has blocked the setting of prices for Iraqi crude destined for the United States market, according to the United Nations office running the oil-for-food food programme, which allows Baghdad to use a portion of its petroleum revenues to purchase humanitarian relief.
"The stalemate in the Security Council over the issue of the frequency for reviewing prices for Iraqi crude oil deliveries, which are submitted by the Iraqi State Marketing Organization, has continued," the Office of the Iraq Programme reported in its weekly update, issued today. "This has prevented the approval of prices for Iraqi crude oil to the United States market in September."
Despite the deadlock, the flow of Iraqi exports remained strong over the past week, according to the update, which reported that Baghdad sold 16.4 million barrels of crude, earning an additional €410 million (euros) or $379 million during that period.
The Office also reported that, reversing recent trends, the number and value of contracts placed on hold by the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq outweighed those newly placed on hold. A total of 54 contracts worth $179.5 million were released from hold last week, while 34 new contracts, valued at $111.4 million, were placed on hold.
Overall, nearly $4 billion worth of contracts are currently on hold, according to the update. Contracts are generally placed on hold because more information is sought on their end-use in Iraq.