Jordan and Iraq agree to ease visa requirements

Baghdad resumes oil imports to kingdom

An oil refinery on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, in 2014. Reuters
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Jordan and Iraq have agreed to ease visa procedures and resume Iraqi oil flows to the kingdom, officials said, after a visit by the Jordanian Interior Minister to Baghdad.

Relations between the two countries have been mostly frosty since the Shiite political ascendancy that followed the US-led invasion that removed Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Visa restrictions have curbed cross-border traffic. Oil supplies from Iraq to Jordan have been also frequently interrupted because of political differences or price changes. The supplies account for 7 per cent of the kingdom's demand.

Jordanian Energy Ministry official Iman Awad said on Tuesday that 80,000 barrels of crude oil had arrived by lorry from the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq.

At the same time, Jordanian state TV reported that the nations had agreed to scrap restrictions that had delayed or prevented each country's citizens obtaining visas. These included requirements for financial and other guarantees. It said that visas can be now obtained within 24 hours of application, unlike before, when there were long waits.

On Monday, Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen Faraya was Baghdad, where he met Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani. The two men discussed “facilitating the movement of passengers, vehicles and goods”, state TV said.

Mr Faraya also met his Iraqi counterpart, Abdulamir Al Shammari.

Iraq agreed in 2006 to export 10,000 barrels per day of oil to Jordan, the first exports to the kingdom since the fall of Saddam in 2003.

Most of Jordan's oil imports, which total 142,000 bpd, are supplied by lorry from Saudi Arabia.

Jordan says it buys Iraqi oil at a $16 discount to Brent, partly because the imports are of lower quality.

Last week, oil prices recorded their first weekly gain in more than a month, as optimism over a US debt deal outweighed global economic slowdown concerns.

Brent, the benchmark for two thirds of the world’s oil, was trading at $75.78 per barrel on Tuesday, a drop of 0.28 per cent from close of trade on Monday.

Updated: May 23, 2023, 12:28 PM