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Iran Rejects Possibility of Oil Production Increase

Iran does not believe any increase in OPEC crude oil production is necessary, not even a moderate one of half a million barrels. That’s what the country’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told media after he arrived in Vienna for tomorrow’s start of OPEC’s two-day meeting that might turn out to be one of the toughest in the cartel’s history.

"I don't agree with any increase," Zanganeh said, adding that the oil market was balanced and that Iran was fine with the current price level. Another Iranian official, government spokesman Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht, earlier this week said Iran’s priority in this meeting will be to keep its production quota of 3.797 million bpd unchanged.

Reuters, however, later in the day reported that Iran may be open to a discussion of oil production “adjustments” with Russia, citing sources who spoke to Russian news agency TASS.

At the beginning of the production-cutting saga, Iran was exempt from cuts. It was actually allowed to raise its production for a while. Then it was capped at the current level, although the country has big plans for its oil production capacity. Earlier this week, a senior official from the National Iranian Oil Company said plans were in place to raise Iran’s oil production capacity by 400,000 bpd.

Related: Goldman: Expect Another Bull Run In Oil

This is in line with earlier stated intention of boosting production above 4 million bpd, but at the moment this would be difficult to achieve as the first round of U.S. sanctions are about to kick in next month. So, in this context, Iran is trying to stabilize its current production level and would find it challenging to raise it any further.

"When it comes to oil, each country considers its own national interest," Nobakht told the oil ministry’s news agency Shana. However, this may not be the case with other OPEC producers. Saudi Arabia would much rather like prices higher, but it has been urged by its biggest buyers to raise production. Others in the cartel, on the other hand, are in the same situation as Iran: they don’t have the means to raise production quickly. Mexico, Algeria, and, of course, Venezuela, fall in this category and will probably support Iran’s stance against production increases.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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