TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said on Saturday he did not expect another OPEC output cut if crude prices continued to rise, although he said that picture might change if prices dipped.
Several OPEC ministers have said there will be no need for more output cuts to add to pledged reductions of 1.7 million barrels per day. The latest cut was implemented in February. OPEC ministers are due to meet on March 15 in Vienna.
“If the price trend remains as such, possibly no further output cut will be discussed beside the 500,000 barrels (per day) which we had in February,” the minister told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on Tehran.
“But if the price drops and the trend changes, naturally other issues can be discussed,” he said.
Oil prices hit a 20-month low of $49.90 a barrel on Jan. 18 as mild weather curbed demand in the United States, the world’s top consumer. Prices have climbed to about $60, boosted by a return to colder temperatures and the supply cuts by OPEC.
Ali al-Naimi, oil minister of the biggest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia, has said the market was in better balance.
Iran, OPEC’s second biggest producer, is embroiled in a dispute with the West over its nuclear plans. The United Nations has slapped sanctions on Iran and said it could face more measures if it does not halt sensitive atomic work by Feb. 21.
Asked if Iran could face sanctions on its energy sector, the minister said: “The world is wiser than to impose such sanctions on Iran.”
The West accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies, insisting it only wants to make fuel for nuclear power stations.