Iraqi oil cutoff squeezes Brazil

Oil-thirsty Brazil is desperately looking for alternative sources of crude in the wake of Iraq's suspension of exports, reliable sources indicate. The Iraqi cutoff has left the big South American country, which is even more dependent on Iraqi crude than import-dependent Japan and France, in a state of shock.

Of the 1.1 million barrels the country consumes each day, 400,000 had been imported from Iraq. Next year Brazil had expected to get 563,000 barrels a day from Iraq, more than 50 percent of its consumption.

To pay its huge oil bill, Brazil has undertaken a variety of development projects in Iraq. Brazilian technicians have uncovered some of Iraq's richest oil reserves and are helping the country exploit them.

A firm from Belo Horizonte, Brazil is building a railroad linking Baghdad to an Iraqi city near the Syrian border. This contract alone is worth $1.2 billion and has yielded jobs for some 3,500 Brazilians. Others are working on projects near Basra and elsewhere.

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