A two-months old dispute between Iraq and Persia over berthing and pilotage rights in the separating Shatt el Arab river, threatens the great oil refinery at Abadan, Persia, with gradual shutdown.
A two-months old dispute between Iraq and Persia over berthing and pilotage rights in the separating Shatt el Arab river, threatens the great oil refinery at Abadan, Persia, with gradual shutdown. Storage tanks are brim-full and fully laden tankers were still lying at anchor Mar 12 as high-level talks continued between the two Foreign Ministries.
The dispute originated Feb 16 when the Persian Government announced that henceforth it would itself handle the berthing of ships at Abadan. Although Abadan is within Persian territorial waters, ships bound for or leaving Abadan have to pass through Iraqi territorial waters, and Iraqi pilots have previously handled the pilotage and berthing. These men are now on strike, and passage between refinery and the river mouth has been stopped.
During a similar dispute last year, Persia formed a special authority and recruited staff in preparation for taking over its berthing rights, but when the dispute subsided, the matter was apparently dropped.
Unless the situation is quickly resolved, it will result in great economic hardship for Persia, because one-third of her total oil production -- 51 million tons in 1960 - is exported to world markets through Abadan. The remaining two-thirds in the form of crude can go forward through the ports of Bandar Mashup and Kharg Island which lie outside the Shatt el Arab.