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Iran Press TV

Iran raps US envoy's meetings with OPEC members as 'unprofessional, meddlesome'

Iran Press TV

Wed Dec 5, 2018 10:19PM

Iranian oil minister has lashed out at US special representative for Iran Brian Hook over his "meddlesome" meetings with members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, asserting that OPEC is an independent body that does not take orders from the US.

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh made the remarks in reaction to Hook's Wednesday meeting with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih one day before OPEC's 175th meeting in Vienna.

"If Mr. Hook has come to Vienna to apply for US membership in OPEC, and this is the reason why he meets OPEC members, the request can be reviewed," Zanganeh told SHANA.

Otherwise, he added, the US official has adopted an unprofessional, naïve, and meddlesome approach.

"OPEC is an independent organization, not a part of the US Department of Energy to take orders from Washington," said Zanganeh, who has left Tehran for Vienna to attend the OPEC summit on Thursday and Friday.

Hook's meeting with the Saudi minister came as Riyadh has indicated a need for steep reductions in output from January but has come under pressure from US President Donald Trump, who has urged Saudis to refrain from output cuts in order to keep oil prices low.

OPEC members will meet on Thursday and hold talks with allies such as Russia on Friday.

The meetings are expected to be focused on a deal to reduce output, but Iran's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardabili believes an agreement is unlikely to be reached.

Ardabili says any meaningful cuts in production must be made by the countries which have pumped above their quotas in breach of a 2007 deal between OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers.

The deal is monitored by the Joint OPEC/Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), which is dominated by Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Ardabili said the committee has unilaterally allowed certain members to produce above their quotas since May despite being "obliged to inform other OPEC members of any change in production and secure their consensus."

Despite the Iranian official's remarks, Kuwait's oil ministry said on its Twitter account on Wednesday that a long-term cooperation agreement is expected to be signed between OPEC and non-OPEC countries.

The possible deal will come after some OPEC and non-OPEC members motivated by an urge to get a better market share sharply increased their oil production, which led to a $30 drop in oil prices from their highest point.

The production surge took place in the run-up to Trump's pledge to sanction Iran's oil sector on Nov. 4 and later decide to give waivers to some customers.

Major producers such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE and Kuwait pounced on the occasion to produce as much oil as they could, anticipating a steep drop in Iran's exports which did not happen.

The move has frustrated many producers, prompting Qatar to announce that it was quitting OPEC to focus on gas in a swipe at Saudi Arabia.

So far, OPEC members have lost $9 billion in total against $2.7 billion earned by the producers which have increased their production, he said.

Iran is suffering both as a result of lower prices and a decline in its oil exports because of the US sanctions.

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