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June 01, 1993|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Iraq Urges OPEC to Curb Output, Raise Prices: Iraq has urged OPEC to cut production and raise prices to counter taxes that the West intends to impose on imported oil. "The steps needed to face this new tax necessitate that we start lowering oil production, remove any oil quantities in spot areas and reduce storage outside producing countries," Oil Minister Usama al-Hiti said in remarks published in Baghdad newspapers. "Also, significant measures must be taken to raise oil prices in the world at present," Hiti said. U.N. trade sanctions imposed in response to Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait have choked off Iraq's oil exports, but al-Hiti said a vital role was in store for his country in world markets once the embargo was lifted. He said no country, party or even superpower could ignore that role since Iraq's reserves now amounted to 112 billion barrels. He said exploration was in full swing, particularly in the desert west of Baghdad, where initial signs indicated reserve estimates will rise further. Iraq's total production prior to U.N. sanctions was 3.25 million barrels per day, of which 2.75 million was for export. Baghdad said it will insist on this quota within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as soon as the embargo is lifted and will demand an extra quota to make up for almost three years' absence from the market.

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