Iran, Iraq at loggerheads with Saudis ahead of OPEC meeting
By Ahmad Ghaddar and Vladimir Soldatkin
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran and Iraq are resisting pressure from Saudi Arabia to curtail oil production, making it hard for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to reach a deal to limit output and boost the price of crude when it meets on Wednesday.
OPEC sources told Reuters a meeting of experts in Vienna on Monday failed to bridge differences between OPEC's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, and the group's second- and third-largest producers over the mechanics of output cuts.
On Tuesday, tensions rose further after Iran wrote to OPEC saying it wanted Saudi Arabia to cut production by as much as 1 million barrels per day (bpd), much more than Riyadh is willing to offer, OPEC sources who saw the letter told Reuters.
"It is a response to Saudi telling Iran what to produce," one of the sources said.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters upon arrival in Vienna that he was not prepared to reduce output: "We will leave the level of production (where) we decided in Algeria."
OPEC, which accounts for a third of global oil production, made a preliminary agreement in Algiers in September to cap output at around 32.5-33 million bpd versus the current 33.64 million bpd to prop up oil prices, which have halved since mid-2014.
OPEC said it would exempt Iran, Libya and Nigeria from cuts as their output has been crimped by unrest and sanctions.
The deal was seen as a victory for Iran. Tehran has long argued it wants to raise production to regain market share lost under Western sanctions, when its political arch-rival Saudi Arabia increased output. Continued...