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Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh has denied reports from last week that his country was willing to rally behind an oil output freeze plan tabled by several key producers to help stabilize the market.
"I even had discussions with Saudi oil minister at that meeting [in Doha, Qatar, in April] because they wanted us to lower oil production in our country to the levels of early 2016. I said to him, “You have got to be kidding!" Zangeneh said, as quoted by the IRINN television channel, remarks ten carried by Sputnik.
His words come almost simultaneously with contradicting statements made by Mohsen Qamsari, the director for the international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), who reportedly said last week that Iran was interested in freezing its production since it had already reached the desirable level of output.
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“Accordingly, the desirable figure for oil minister [Zangeneh] has been reached and we can join the oil freeze plan,” he has been quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
Iran’s current production of oil amounts to about 4.2 million barrels per day while the country’s oil exports already stand at 2.2 million bpd, of which at least 0.5 million bpd is exported to Europe. Qamsari conceded though the final decision rests with the Iranian oil minister.
The oil freeze plan was forwarded by OPEC and non-OPEC producers and calls for production to stay at the level of January. The measure is designed to increase the prices after collapsing 65 percent since June 2014.
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Iran had previously dismissed the proposal since it sought to substantially increase its oil production after years of economic sanctions imposed by the UN due to its controversial nuclear program. But Tehran later argued it could abide by this plan if production reaches 4 billion barrels per day.
In Doha, an OPEC meeting held mid-April failed to end in a consensus on this plan after Saudi Arabia backed out of talks, arguing Iran should also cut production before any oil freeze enforcement.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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