Iran can boost output fast if OPEC ends cuts, oil minister says

Bloomberg | Golnar Motevalli and Arsalan Shahla: Iran can swiftly increase production of crude if OPEC decides to scrap limits on global output when the group meets next in June, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said.

The Persian Gulf nation can raise daily production by at least 100,000 barrels within “five or six days” if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decides that crude prices are high enough to justify abandoning its oil-cuts accord with other producers, he told reporters in Tehran.

“We’re always adding to our production levels, from West Karoun and Azadegan,” Zanganeh said Sunday, referring to two oil-producing areas in western Iran near the Iraq border. Iran has so far exercised “self-restraint” in pumping to accommodate the group’s decision in November to maintain the cuts, he said.

OPEC agreed with Russia and other producers to continue limiting production until the end of this year as they try to counter a threat from rival suppliers, including U.S. shale drillers, and firm up prices. The collective cuts, which took effect last January, targeted a reduction of about 1.8 million barrels a day. OPEC allowed Iran, which is struggling to modernize its economy after years of international sanctions, to boost production slightly to some 3.8 million barrels a day.

Brent crude, an international benchmark, has gained 48 percent since the producers first agreed to cap output. Brent ended trading in London on Friday at $68.58 a barrel.

“If we want to make a decision, it has be at the right time, which is June — when we’ll next meet,” Zanganeh said. “But my impression is that OPEC members are not after very expensive oil because very expensive oil leads to mid-term price fluctuations.”

Iran, the third-largest producer in OPEC, pumped 3.83 million barrels a day last month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.