AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Iraq has resumed oil supplies to Jordan for the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to Jordanian Oil Minister Khaldoun Qteishat.
The first shipment of 18,500 barrels of Iraqi crude arrived overland at Jordan’s eastern desert border with Iraq and was expected to be trucked into the kingdom later in the day, Qteishat said Tuesday. The shipment came from a station in Beiji, 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of Baghdad.
The oil flow began six weeks after Jordan’s King Abdullah II became the first Arab head of state to visit neighboring Iraq since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein.
In 2006, Iraq promised to resume oil supplies to Jordan. But that never took place because of attacks inside Iraq on trucks ferrying goods and headed to neighboring countries.
But three months ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged to help his oil-poor neighbor to resume the supplies at preferential prices.
Subsequently, a three-year agreement was signed, giving Jordan a discount of US$22 per barrel less than the prevailing prices on international markets.
Qteishat said that, following the initial shipment, Jordan expects about 10,000 barrels of Iraqi oil to be trucked everyday to the kingdom, covering less than 10 percent of its daily needs. He said the volume may increase to 30,000 barrels per day in the future, depending on how well the supply system runs.
Qteishat spoke about unspecified “difficulties” while transporting the oil, but said Jordan and Iraq “worked together to overcome them.” He declined to elaborate. Jordan depended on Iraq for all its imports of about 120,000 barrels of oil per day before Saddam’s ouster. The Iraqi dictator offered Jordan oil at cheap prices that ran at about half the world market price at the time.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stepped in during the last five years to help cash-strapped Jordan cope with a steep rise in its oil bill following the halt of cheap Iraqi crude.