Military Action Against Iraq Could Mean an Increase in OPEC Production

Kuwait's oil minister said that OPEC was ready to increase crude supplies to world markets if the United States decided to go ahead with a military strike on Iraq. "If a war starts, OPEC countries are ready to fill any possible supply disruption," Kuwait's acting oil minister, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah, said in a statement. "Kuwait's quota inside OPEC is 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd), but we can export more, up to two million bpd. Many others are also able to increase production, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates," Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah said.

He said Kuwait would not support a military strike on Iraq, but said no decision had been taken on whether or not to allow U.S. forces to use Kuwaiti bases. "The Americans have bases in Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Turkey. Why does everybody pay so much attention to Kuwait? And the Americans can easily do without land bases because they have aircraft carriers," Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah, who is also Kuwait's acting information minister, said.

On Monday, Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah said he did not expect OPEC to raise oil output at its September meeting unless the price of its basket of crudes went above $28 per barrel.

OPEC ministers will meet in Japan on September 19 to decide whether to raise output in response to the current oil price rally, sparked in recent months by concerns that a U.S.-led military strike on Iraq could disrupt flows of crude from the Middle East.