IRAN WILL PROTECT
Iran will protect its share of global crude sales under all circumstances, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, as OPEC members prepare to meet next week to review production levels.
The Persian Gulf nation can double oil exports in two months if sanctions against are removed, Zanganeh said, according to the ministry's news website Shana.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will gather on Nov. 27 in Vienna to assess its collective output amid a supply glut and a 30 percent drop in prices this year. Iran's crude output has languished under international economic sanctions that deter foreign energy investors and limit its exports to approximately 1 million barrels a day.
"Under no circumstance will Iran decrease its share of the global market, not even by one barrel," Shana cited him as saying.
OPEC producers are stepping up diplomatic visits before their meeting, discussing how to react to the plunge in oil prices to a four-year low. Saudi Arabia, the group's biggest member, remains committed to seeking stable prices, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said Nov. 12 in Mexico. Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela's OPEC representative, visited Algeria, Qatar, Iran and Russia. Zanganeh traveled to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait.
OPEC members Libya, Venezuela and Ecuador have called for action to prevent crude from tumbling further. Brent crude futures added 25 cents to $79.58 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London at 12:42 p.m. Singapore time.
Iran, which produced more than 4 million barrels a day in 2008, lost market share to other producers amid sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear program. It pumped 2.77 million barrels a day in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The nation could boost output by 700,000 barrels a day within two months of the removal of sanctions, Zanganeh told reporters at the last OPEC meeting in Vienna in June.
"I don't expect to see much more Iranian oil returning to the market in 2015," Richard Mallinson, a London-based analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., said by e-mail yesterday. "Iran faces technical challenges increasing output and needs foreign investment and expertise."
The U.S. and allied countries are concerned that Iran may be seeking to develop technology to build nuclear weapons, an accusation Iran denies. The sanctions, which target Iran's energy and financial services industries, include a European Union ban on imports of Iranian crude.
The Islamic republic and six world powers are negotiating to reach an agreement that would limit Iran's nuclear program in return for an end to sanctions. The deadline for the talks is Nov. 24, three days before OPEC's meeting.
Zanganeh said countries in the southern Persian Gulf "are eager to maintain their market share, and a loss of market share is problematic for them," according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. OPEC members in the southern Gulf include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the U.A.E.
"Zanganeh noted that in Vienna he will talk to Saudi officials about this matter on Wednesday," IRNA reported.
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