TEHRAN,(Reuters) – Iran’s president said on Friday that his country was looking at ways to help protect poor states from the impact of surging oil prices while rich countries should pay what he called the “real price”.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reiterating Iran’s increasingly hawkish position on prices that have charged to record levels, partly on the back of worries that Iran’s dispute with the West over its nuclear programme could disrupt Iranian crude supplies.
Ahmadinejad said earlier this week that oil prices had not reached their “real value” yet, suggesting they should rise further. He did not specify an appropriate level.
“There is a fund in OPEC, and the Oil Ministry and Foreign Ministry are in talks to see whether this OPEC fund has the capacity (to support poor countries),” Ahmadinejad said when asked about his plans to set up an assistance fund.
“If so, then we will strengthen this fund and find a formula to protect poor and weak countries not to be harmed because of the crude price hike,” he told reporters while touring an oil industry exhibition.
“But those rich and industrial countries that have billions of dollars in income should pay the real price for their crude oil,” he added. He did not give details about the financing mechanism to protect poor countries but the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries already has a fund to promote development.
Iran is the world’s fourth largest oil exporter. Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said on Thursday that Iran was happy with surging prices, which topped $74 a barrel on Thursday before easing back on Friday.
Iranian lawmakers have previously said that a price of $100 or more for a barrel of oil was an appropriate level.
In March, OPEC production excluding Iraq was 27.81 million barrels per day, of which Iran’s production was 3.85 million bpd.