Iran Seeks OPEC Support Against US Sanctions

Iran has asked OPEC to support it against new U.S. sanctions and signaled it is not yet in agreement with Saudi Arabia’s views on the possible need to increase global oil supplies, creating potential problems for OPEC at its meeting next month.

Iran, the arch-rival of Saudi Arabia, has a history of being difficult at OPEC meetings including in 2015 when the country refused to sign up to OPEC policies, saying it needed to raise output due to the easing of sanctions following Tehran’s accord with major world powers.

U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month pulled out of that nuclear deal with Iran and announced the “highest level” of sanctions against the OPEC member. Iran is the third-largest oil producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

“I would like to … seek OPEC’s support in accordance with Article 2 of the OPEC Statute, which emphasizes safeguarding the interests of member countries individually and collectively,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in a letter seen by Reuters.

Zanganeh also suggested in the letter that Iran was not in agreement with some OPEC ministers’ recent comments on the oil market. He said some OPEC ministers “have implicitly or unwittingly spoken for the organization, expressing views that might be perceived as the official position of the OPEC.”

The energy ministers of Saudi Arabia and Russia said last week they were prepared to ease output cuts to calm consumer worries about supply.

Raising output would bring an end to about 18 months of strict supply curbs amid concerns that oil prices have risen too far. Oil prices have hit their highest since late 2014, rising above $80.50 a barrel this month, but have since eased.