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Iran Rejects Russia-Saudi Oil Freeze Proposal


Source: RFE/RL

Iran has said it will not freeze its oil production, a blow to a proposal by Russia and Saudi Arabia to freeze global output to help turn around a plunge in oil prices. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told Iran's Press TV on March 13 that other oil-producing countries should "leave us alone."

Iranian Oil Minister Zanganeh talks to reporters in southern port of Bandar Abbas, March 13, 2016.
(photo by Shana)

Zanganeh added Tehran would only consider a freeze after it increases production to 4 million barrels a day, the level it saw before international sanctions were imposed due to concerns about its nuclear program.

According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iran's current production is between 2.8 million and 3.5 million barrels a day.

The Russian-Saudi proposal, which OPEC members Venezuela and Qatar have supported, is designed to stabilize oil prices, which have fallen by up to 70 percent since their peak in mid-2014.

The International Energy Agency credited Russia and Saudi Arabia with helping to turn around a plunge in oil prices this year by proposing the output freeze.

In a report on March 11, the organization that represents oil-consuming nations said the Saudi-Russian effort to gather producers behind a freeze represented a "first stab at co-ordinated action that is intended to stabilize prices."

While the freeze, which is still under discussion and not officially in place, is aimed at pushing oil prices up to around $50 a barrel, the agency said getting prices to stabilize in that vicinity will be difficult and probably will not occur until 2017.

In remarks to Press TV, Zanganeh also said U.S. companies were welcome to invest in the country's oil and gas industry.

Zangeneh said "in general, we have no problem with the presence of American companies in Iran."

He confirmed that Iran's state-run oil company has held talks with General Electric.

With reporting by dpa, AP, and Press TV

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