Russia turns UK down on Iraqi oil

The British proposal would change the current system of pricing Iraqi oil at the end of every month to allow companies on a "Green List" advance notice of prices. UN officials, Iraq and Russia blame the delayed pricing policy for a 25 percent drop in Iraqi oil exports this year, which has created a revenue crisis for the oil-for-food humanitarian program. Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Gennady Gatilov indicated that a Green List, which might exclude fly-by-night traders, would discriminate against Russian firms. Russia has "substantial concerns on grounds of discrimination if this Green List is adopted," Gatilov said. "The criteria which are suggested are not acceptable to us." The British proposal seeks to tighten controls on the more than 1,000 oil companies from some 83 countries that are currently registered with the United Nations to purchase Iraqi oil through the oil-for-food program. Russian companies dominate the Iraqi oil trade. Under the British proposal, a dual system for pricing Iraqi oil would be created: Traders on a Green List would be told the price of Iraqi crude before it was loaded, while non-listed companies would continue to learn the price after they had already picked up the oil. Proceeds from Iraqi oil sales are the main source of revenue for the 5-year-old oil-for-food program which was started to alleviate some of the suffering of Iraqi civilians living under sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of crude oil to purchase food, medicine and other humanitarian goods, the Saint Petersburg Times newspaper wrote.

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