Iran Can Ramp Up Crude Exports to Pre-Sanction Levels in Months: Minister
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian oil minister who is in Vienna to attend the 164th ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said Iran’s oil exports will be back to pre-sanctions level in a few months.
“I hereby announce that after the Geneva (nuclear) meeting the Iranian oil industry has been preparing itself for full return to the oil markets,” Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said after arrival in Vienna in a meeting with the press.
Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough deal on November 24 on Tehran's nuclear program. Under an interim deal with the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany, Iran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for minor relief from western sanctions.
“We have no technical difficulties to expand our exports and to return to four millions barrels a day oil output...We believe it is our right to increase our exports,” he said.
About the quantity of extra oil that Iran would be able to pump into the market during the coming year, he said, “There is no problem in terms of Iran’s production capacity... The amount of oil to be produced in Iran in the future depends on political considerations."
On the required time for Iran to return its production to the pre-sanctions levels, the Iranian oil minister predicted that it would be the beginning of the next Iranian year (March 21, 2014).
“I have neither talked about the issue to the Iraqi oil minister, nor to any other minister. Everyone knows how much they have increased the production quotas and what portion of Iran’s natural share they have used,” he said when asked if he had talked with his Iraqi counterpart over Baghdad's making up for Iran's lost exports.
With the 12-nation cartel expected to keep production levels on hold, attention will turn to Iran's bid to reassert itself in the group. Fresh off a nuclear deal with six world powers, it aims to have international sanctions lifted in six months and is vying to name one of its own to be OPEC secretary general.
Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq have nominated candidates for the OPEC top post. Iran’s nominee is former petroleum minister Gholam Hossein Nozari.
Nozari is to vie with Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor Majid al-Maneef and top Iraqi energy official Samir al-Ghasban for the OPEC secretary-general post.
Iran's crude oil exports have dropped from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2011 to 1.2 million bpd in 2012, according to the minister.
On Tuesday, he suggested oil sanctions may be incrementally relaxed even earlier, telling the reporters, "I hope we (can) gradually increase our export" as the first-step deal is implemented over the coming months.