OPEC's Vienna Meeting to Outline Strategy of Action in Case of War on Iraq

The main issue on the agenda of the 124th conference of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to take place on Tuesday in Vienna, will be the one on a possible war of the U.S. and U.K. against Iraq, reported the OPEC Secretariat General.

The OPEC leadership intends to tell the conference about the cartel's readiness to cover a possible deficit on world markets as a result of termination of Iraqi deliveries (Iraq exports up to 1.2 million barrels a day in accordance with the UN Oil for Food program). In line with that, noted a high-ranking source in the Vienna HQ of OPEC, the cartel intends to take drastic measures to prevent oil prices from reaching 41 dollars per barrel, the level they reached during the Gulf war in 1990. OPEC Secretary General Alvaro Silva Calderon is sure the present growth of prices for the "black gold" is not conditioned by a lack of deliveries and represents a "military prize" - "the pay for the fear of war against Iraq." The secretary general believes that if ways out of the Iraqi crisis are found, the prices might again return to the 22-28 dollars per barrel corridor.

Aware of the importance of that matter, the cartel's leadership suggested holding a Tuesday meeting between OPEC members and representatives of the largest hydrocarbon exporter countries that are not members of OPEC, in particular, Russia, Norway, Mexico and Egypt. The meeting's supposed to discuss possible actions by oil-extracting states in the event of a military escalation of the Iraqi conflict.