Iran appeared Wednesday to back a plan laid out by four influential oil producers to cap their crude output if others do the same, though it offered no indication that it has any plans to follow suit itself.
The agreement reached in Doha the day before by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela is aimed at stabilizing global oil prices, which recently plunged to less than $30 a barrel, a 13-year low. But Iran is keen to ramp up exports to regain market share now that sanctions related to its nuclear program have been lifted under a landmark agreement.
“Iran supports any measure to boost oil prices,” Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said after talks with his counterparts from Iraq, Venezuela and Qatar.
“The decision taken to freeze the production ceiling of OPEC and non-OPEC members to stabilize and boost prices is also supported by us,” he added, in comments posted on the ministry’s website late Wednesday.
Iran’s envoy to OPEC, Mahdi Asali, had earlier blamed the fall in prices on oversupply, and said it was up to Saudi Arabia and others to cut production. He said the four nations that participated at the Doha gathering could stabilize oil prices on their own — if they cut their production by 2 million barrels a day.
The four countries made their announcement following an unexpected meeting in the Qatari capital that pointedly did not include Iran. They agreed to act only if other producers made similar freezes.
Iran has previously said it hopes to put another 500,000 barrels a day on the market. Figures from the International Energy Agency show it pumped 2.9 million barrels daily in December, before sanctions were lifted.
Iran used to export 2.3 million barrels per day, but its crude exports fell to 1 million in 2012, when sanctions were tightened.(The Associated Press)
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