Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran will continue to raise its production and exports until it hits the market position it enjoyed before the imposition of sanctions, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
Zanganeh was speaking at the weekend ahead of a scheduled April 17 meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers in Doha to discuss a possible output freeze to prop up prices, and his comment appeared to further threaten the prospect of reaching an effective agreement at the meeting.
Despite news on Iran attending the talks with fellow OPEC members and Russia in Qatar next month without joining their proposal to freeze crude oil production, Mehr reported Zanganeh saying he would certainly attend the meeting “if he had time”.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Riyadh would agree to freeze crude oil production levels on condition that Iran and other major producers did so. A global surplus has pulled down oil prices by as much as 70 percent since 2014.
Zanganeh was also quoted by Mehr as saying that “the agreement between the world’s top OPEC and non-OPEC exporters such as Saudi Arabia and Russia to freeze output at January levels is a positive step”.
The oil ministry’s official Shana news service cited Zanganeh saying that Iran’s oil and gas condensate exports rose by 250,000 barrels a day in March, to surpass 2 million barrels a day.The remarks were the oil minister’s first comments since a report emerged last week that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, would limit its production only if Iran followed suit.
OPEC secondary sources put Iran’s current output at 2.93 million barrels per day (bpd). It is working to regain market share, particularly in Europe, after the lifting of international sanctions in January. The sanctions had cut crude exports from a peak of 2.5 million bpd before 2011 to just over 1 million bpd in recent years.