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Iran has plans in place to swiftly restore its crude oil production to pre-sanctions levels of nearly 3.4 million barrels per day (bpd), a senior Iranian industry official said on Wednesday, while the world powers and the Islamic Republic are expected to resume this week talks about the U.S. and Iran returning to the nuclear deal.
Iran plans to restore almost 1 million bpd of oil production within a month of the U.S. lifting the sanctions on Iranian oil, which of course would happen if the Vienna talks result in an agreement.
Farrokh Alikhani, deputy director of production at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), told the Iranian oil ministry's news outlet, Shana that Iran plans to return to its pre-sanctions production of 3.38 million bpd.
According to OPEC's secondary sources in its latest available monthly report, Iran's crude oil production averaged 2.393 million bpd in April, up by 73,000 bpd from March.
"Precise planning has been done to restore oil production to the pre-sanctions levels in one-week, one-month and three-month intervals, and if the sanctions are lifted, most of the country's oil production will be revived within a month," NIOC's Alikhani told Shana in an interview published on Wednesday.
"Our plan is not limited to restoring previous production capacity, and in the second step, we plan to increase oil production capacity even further," he added.
The "next step" production increase targets Iran's crude oil production capacity to rise to over 4 million bpd, Alikhani said.
Related: Oil Prices Fall Following Large Fuel Inventory Build
Meanwhile, signs have started to emerge that a possible deal may not be as imminent as previously thought.
The talks have made "great progress" on some economic issues, but the U.S. sanctions issue hasn't been resolved yet, Mahmoud Vaezi, chief of staff of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, said on Wednesday, as quoted by semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency.
On Tuesday, comments from Iran also signaled that a deal may not be announced before the presidential elections in Iran on June 18.
The course Iran is taking in the talks will not change after the presidential vote because the policy is set by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, as carried by Reuters.
These comments were interpreted as a sign that no deal could be expected before June 18.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com