Iran says OPEC won’t pursue US instructions on oil output hike

Press TV-Iran has lashed out at the United States for asking Saudi Arabia to pump more oil to cover a drop in Iranian exports, saying the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would dismiss the appeal.

“It’s crazy and astonishing to see instruction coming from Washington to Saudi to act and replace a shortfall of Iran’s export due to their illegal sanctions on Iran and Venezuela,” Iran’s OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told Reuters on Friday.

Kazempour Ardebili made the comments in response to reports that the US government had quietly asked Saudi Arabia and some other OPEC producers to increase oil production by about one million barrels a day.

The rare request came after US President Donald Trump publicly complained about OPEC policy and rising oil prices on Twitter. It also follows Washington’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran’s crude exports that had previously displaced about one million barrels a day, or just over one percent of global production.

The Iranian OPEC official said the organization would pay no heed to the US request and emphasized that Washington’s sanctions on Iran and Venezuela would lead to a jump in oil prices, as they did during a previous round of US sanctions against Iran.

“No one in OPEC will act against two of its founder members. The US tried it last time against Iran, but oil prices got to $140 a barrel,” he said.

He added that the OPEC members would unite in opposition to the US call, saying, “OPEC will not accept such a humiliation. How arrogant and ignorant one could be (to) underestimate the history of 60 years’ cooperation among competitors.”

“We have to live together – we cannot change geography but we must build better history,” Kazempour Ardebili pointed out.

The 174th meeting of the OPEC conference is scheduled to be held in Vienna, Austria, on June 22 to review its oil output policy.

In an address to reporters after his meeting with EU’s energy chief Miguel Arias Canete in Tehran last month, Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said Tehran’s oil exports to remain unchanged if a nuclear deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 is salvaged by the EU following the US withdrawal from the multinational accord.

“Every new decision in OPEC needs unanimity… I believe that the help of the European Union helps us… the level of our oil exports will not change,” Zangeneh said.

The US president announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – plus Germany.

Trump also said he would reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

OPEC said in May that it is too soon to decide whether to increase production to make up for any loss in supply from Iran’s exports following US announcement that it would impose new sanctions on Tehran.

The organization has ruled out the body has any immediate contingency plans for offsetting a potential loss in Iran’s oil flow to the market.

OPEC, founded in 1960, has a history of collaboration over oil policy despite differences of opinion.