Iran welcomes Doha deal without joining in

OREANDA-NEWS. February 19, 2016. Iran's oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh issued a carefully calibrated response to yesterday's agreement between Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar, and Venezuela to freeze oil output at January levels if other major producers did the same.

He welcomed the signs of co-operation but pointedly did not volunteer that Iran would join in.

Following a visit by Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio Del Pino, Iraqi oil minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Qatari oil minister and current Opec president Mohammed Saleh al-Sada to Tehran, Zanganeh said, "Iran will support any action to stabilise the conditions of the market and improve crude oil prices." But, crucially, he did not say that Iran had offered to join the initiative, which he cast as a first step.

"While this is the first step, and further steps need to be taken, the start of co-operation between Opec and non-Opec members to improve the state of the market is satisfying, and we support any action to stabilise the market and improve prices," he said.

"As I previously said, this is the first step, and we should have a positive view of this, but I think everyone agrees that we have to now monitor the state and reaction of the market, and consult before we take the next action, whatever that may be," Zanganeh said.

Al-Sada, Abdul Mahdi and Del Pino left Tehran without comment.

Immediately after the meeting in Doha yesterday, senior Iranian officials reiterated Tehran's long-held position that it would not countenance halting its increase in exports to pre-sanctions levels. Zanganeh today said Iran's progress in rebuilding exports was discussed at the Tehran meeting and other participants took a "rational view" of this.