February 22, 2021 | oil and gas

Iraq puts oil prepayments deal on hold as prices rise

Under the agreement, Iraq was to receive about $2.5bn for 48 million barrels of crude


Iraq has decided to freeze its first crude oil prepayment deal, which had aimed to boost its finances, because oil prices are rising, the country's oil minister told BBC Arabic on Sunday.

'We had concerns that oil prices would not rise above $40 when we announced this deal for the first time in the history of Iraq,' Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said.

With the start of this year and the economic stability resulted from boosted oil prices, we decided to freeze this option

Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, Iraq's oil minister

Brent crude prices have been trading above $60 a barrel recently.

“With the start of this year and the economic stability resulted from boosted oil prices, we decided to freeze this option,' Mr Abdul Jabbar said.

Chinese state oil trader Zhenhua Oil had emerged as the frontrunner in a tender to buy Iraqi crude for five years after it submitted the 'most competitive bid' in the tender held by Iraq's state oil marketer Somo.

The tender attracted participation from international oil companies, trading houses and Chinese and Indian refiners.

Opec member Iraq was seeking a five-year prepayment starting in January 2021 to be repaid with cargoes of its Basra crude, according to a letter sent by Somo to its customers.

Under the prepayment deal, the winner of the tender was to pay Somo about $2.5 billion in return for 48 million barrels of crude between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

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