Oil-Supply Jitters

Oil refinery, Iraq
An Iraqi oil refinery, as photographed on April 8, 2002, when President Saddam Hussein announced the suspension of Iraqi oil exports (Photo: AFP).
Zagreb Vecernji List (independent), April 4: Iraq’s appeal to Arab countries to use oil as a weapon against Israel so far looks like a shot in the air. The Arab countries are publicly unwilling to impose an oil embargo, although even in moderate countries like Egypt and Jordan, calls are growing for a break in all diplomatic relations with Israel and [an embargo of] oil supplies for the biggest consumer, the United States.
—B. Keserovic

Milan Corriere della Sera (centrist), April 10: Saddam Hussein...has declared he will suspend oil exports for one month [as a protest] against [Ariel] Sharon’s military operation. This 3.3-percent cut is irrelevant from an economic point of view but a very important one as a psychological and political stand. This way he can get sympathy from his people and alarm the international market.
—Antonio Ferrari

Hong Kong South China Morning Post (centrist), April 12: Economists doubt the Palestinian-Israel conflict and the Iraqi boycott will have a long-term impact on oil prices or scuttle the nascent export-led economic recovery in Asia. But factor in a U.S. attack on Iraq, and their economic crystal balls cloud over.

Kingston The Jamaica Gleaner (centrist), April 10: Fallout from the widening crisis in the Middle East is beginning to be felt worldwide, and in Jamaica it is as close as your nearest gas pump. In the past month the price of crude oil has increased 35 percent on the world spot markets....The greatest fear in oil circles, and elsewhere, is that the war would widen within the region.

London Al-Quds al-Arabi (Palestinian expatriate), April 9: [Iraq’s] boycott is a retaliatory measure against the United States and Israel after the latest attacks in the West Bank and the refugee camps. It is yet to be seen whether these oil-producing states will follow Iraq’s lead—instead, they await a decision from OPEC....What we fear most is that Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Islamic countries may try to
neutralize Iraq’s decision by increasing their production.

Athens Eleftherotypia (liberal), April 7: The geostrategic parameters related to crude oil and products are changing rapidly. As the Middle East erupts, talk of Arabs using oil prices as their ultimate weapon is expected. The Arab oil-producing countries have never again shut down their they did with their embargo in 1973. It does seem, for now...that they have no intention of abandoning the status quo.
—F. Hoida

Accra The Statesman (independent, privately owned weekly), April 9: There is growing trepidation that rising crude prices could wipe out public optimism over the government’s stewardship of the economy....Here in Ghana, we can only sit and watch as the United States, Israel, and the Arab world play power politics with our crucial need to empower ourselves economically.

Tehran Tehran Times (conservative, English-language), April 13: If Muslims impose an oil embargo on the pro-Israeli countries, the issue of Palestine could be resolved within a short period. The world’s conscience will never be asleep as long as world public opinion understands the real nature of imperialism under the pretext of war against terrorism, as both Israel and the U.S. are the greatest terrorists in recent history. 
—Ali Asghar Pahlevan

Beijing China Daily (state-run), April 11: According to Abi Aad, an expert from the France-based Mediterranean Energy Observatory, the volume [of oil] Iraq withdrew from the market...amounts to no less than 5 percent of the total volume of crude ex-ported by oil-producing countries. “If needed,” he said, “other producers can easily make up for it.” Iraq’s decision is symbolic, and it will remain so, as long as Iraq is alone.

Mexico City La Jornada (left-wing), April 7: Some so-called analysts attribute the rise in oil prices to the recent actions of war in the Middle East. What’s true is that these prices have been increasing constantly for more than 10 weeks now....Indeed, the bellicose actions gave an extra little push to the most recent phase of these price increases. Oil from the Persian Gulf is clearly fundamental for the world oil market.
—Antonio Gershenson

New Delhi The Economic Times (conservative), April 15: In India, the government has shielded consumers from the shock [of oil price hikes] by asking oil companies to hold retail prices steady. This is silly—higher prices would have forced consumers to be thrifty and promoted energy efficiency—and unsustainable over time....If the price spike continues, the government will either have to lift the price curbs or watch the oil companies go bust.