Reuters: Iran will not hold back its vital oil exports as a weapon in its nuclear dispute with the West, a move that could push crude oil prices to fresh record highs, a senior Iranian oil official said on Monday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran will not hold back its vital oil exports as a weapon in its nuclear dispute with the West, a move that could push crude oil prices to fresh record highs, a senior Iranian oil official said on Monday.
“Iran will not use oil as a weapon because we think it would have a very bad effect on most of the population of the world,” Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian told Reuters in an interview.
Some Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by drawing attention to the Islamic state’s key role as the world’s fourth biggest crude oil producer, have provoked fears that Iran could curb its exports in retaliation for any sanctions imposed on Tehran.
Iran’s nuclear case has been reported to the U.N. Security Council where it could face sanctions for failing to allay Western suspicions that it is developing a secret nuclear weapons capability.
Iran denies any intention of making atomic arms.
Nejad-Hosseinian played down the likelihood of sanctions being imposed.
“I think there is no possibility of putting sanctions on Iran without … very bad consequences,” he said.
Turning to oil markets he said demand for OPEC crude will drop about two million barrels per day (bpd) to 26 million bpd in the second quarter of 2006.
“If the price of oil decreases more, $50 or further, (OPEC) production should decrease to keep those levels,” he said.
Asked what Iran’s policy would be at the next meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in March, he said: “To keep prices between 50 and 60 dollars” per barrel.