Speaking in his new role as president of OPEC, Iraq's Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi said he will visit Iran on Thursday to discuss oil market stability and would ask Tehran for assurances that all countries will work to protect waterways and oil supplies, Reuters reported.
Luaibi's comments on Wednesday were a reference to threats from Tehran that it would stop oil moving through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed on Iran's oil exports.
Iran has threatened that it would close the Strait of Hormuz, which is just 45 kms wide at its narrowest point and works as a crucial waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, in the event of a military strike or severe tightening of international sanctions on its oil exports.
US officials said that they believe that Iran's threat were a bluster and an attempt to drive up the price of oil and blocking the route used by majority of Iran's petroleum exports would amount to economic suicide.
"I will go to Iran to encourage our brothers to express real and important assurances to the world that everyone is keen to protect the waterways and to protect the process of production and export of oil in the region," Luaibi said.
"Otherwise, anything less will affect the whole world and will affect the global economy," he said.
He said Iraq was against the use of oil in politics and that OPEC was keen to seek stability in oil production and prices.
Iraq will begin test-pumping crude oil through its new single-point mooring in the Gulf on Jan. 25 and the terminal will be ready to receive its first vessels in February, Luaibi told a news conference.
"We will start pumping with low quantities and this will increase gradually," he said.
Edited by: S. Isayev
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