Iran to Halt Oil Exports If Sanctions Intensify

Iran will suspend all oil exports, pushing global crude prices higher, if the U.S. and Europe tighten sanctions further on the OPEC member’s economy, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi warned.

“If you continue to add to the sanctions, we will stop our oil exports to the world,” he said at a news conference in Dubai. “The lack of Iranian oil in the market would drastically add to the price.”

Iran wants “reasonable” prices for crude and doesn’t seek an increase, he said earlier today. Brent crude for December settlement was 72 cents lower at $108.72 a barrel on the London- based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 11:45 a.m. local time.

Iran’s oil exports have dwindled in the face of U.S. and European Union sanctions on its energy and financial industries. The Persian Gulf nation, formerly the second-biggest producer among the 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has slipped to a rank of fourth, behind Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, data gathered by Bloomberg show.

Iran has a plan for functioning without oil revenue, Qasemi said, without elaborating. He blamed “belligerent” policies for tightening global energy supply, speaking earlier at an industry conference, and said restrictions on Iran affect consumers.

Differing Data
The Islamic republic is pumping 4 million barrels a day, most of it for domestic consumption, he said. Qasemi’s output figure differs from data compiled by Bloomberg showing that Iran produced an average of 2.85 million barrels a day in September.

Iran has historically sought higher oil prices, in contrast to Saudi Arabia, which has tried to keep prices at more attractive levels for consuming nations. Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest producer in OPEC, pumping 9.8 million barrels a day last month, according to the International Energy Agency.

Qasemi said his country plans to invest $100 billion in energy projects over four years and pressed for “non-political investment” in such resources.

Iran supports its candidate, Gholamhossein Nozari, in a four-way contest for the position of secretary-general of OPEC, Qasemi said. Governors of the group’s members are meeting at OPEC’s Vienna headquarters this week to select a new secretary- general for the first time in six years, with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Ecuador also fielding candidates.

Iran faces international sanctions because of its nuclear program, which the U.S. and allied nations say may be aimed at developing weapons technology. The Iranian government counters that it wants nuclear energy for non-military use.

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