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Iran, Iraq Bow Out Of Next OPEC Meeting

Iran and Iraq will not send their oil ministers to an OPEC meeting scheduled for this week on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. This is according to sources close to the two countries, quoted by Reuters.

That meeting was actually going to be more of a series of bilateral talks, according to one of the sources that spoke to Reuters, probably dedicated to hammering out the details of the production freeze to be discussed at OPEC’s November meeting in Vienna. A final decision, in other words, will not be reached in Istanbul.

The absence of two of OPEC’s biggest producers suggests this final decision on the freeze might turn out to be even more challenging than already believed.

Iran was the first to throw a wrench in the workings of the freeze deal as it was being negotiated. When Saudi Arabia made the biggest concession so far, pledging to reduce its output if Iran froze its own at August levels (3.6 million bpd), Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran would first like to restore its daily production to 4 million bpd and above.

It was this statement by Iran’s oil minister that dampened already weak hopes that a deal could be agreed at the Algiers meeting of OPEC. The meeting then came and went without a final agreement, but with Iran agreeing to talks in November, after getting what it wanted: it’s possible that the country will be able to ramp up its daily output to 4 million barrels by November 30.

Then Iraq spoke against the method OPEC uses to calculate each member’s production quota. If an agreement is reached in November, there will be new quotas for every member, and Iraq wants these to be based on self-reported daily production rates. These, however, are frequently higher than the figures reported by external sources, even though they don’t reflect the actual production as accurately.

All in all, the absence of Bijan Zanganeh and Jabar al-Luaibi from this week’s meting hints at the serious difficulties OPEC will encounter when the final negotiations on a freeze begins.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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