Tehran Wants to Avoid Oil Price War

Tehran Wants to Avoid Oil Price WarTehran Wants to Avoid Oil Price War

Iran wants to avoid an oil price war with rival producers and will gradually lift exports once sanctions against it are lifted, a senior official said, in what would be a major shift away from planning to ship as much fuel as soon as possible.

"We don't want to start a sort of price war," Mohsen Qamsari, the National Iranian Oil Company's director for international affairs, told Reuters by telephone.

"We will be more subtle in our approach and may gradually increase output. I have to say that there is no room to push prices down any further, given the level where they are."

Qamsari did not give any detail on how much Iran would be prepared to moderate a rise in its shipments, but said Iran would not offer further discounts to lure customers.

Currently, Iran offers 90-day credit, free shipping and some discounts on crude prices to buyers in India.

Iran, which has some of the world's biggest petroleum reserves, has repeatedly urged fellow members within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to make room for a supply jump from the Islamic Republic, pledging to ramp up exports as soon as sanctions on its oil industry are lifted under a nuclear deal with world powers.

A move to limit export growth would be a major shift in Iran's policies in an environment when most OPEC and non-OPEC producers are fighting for market share despite a growing global oil glut, which has already cut crude prices by two-thirds since 2014.

The remarks come a week after Iran's relations with its main Middle East rival and top oil exporter Saudi Arabia broke down over the execution of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

  No Big Deal

The impact on the oil market of the breach in diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be temporary and the crude surplus in the market is a bigger threat, Iran's national representative to OPEC was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

"The effect of this political tension on the oil market will be short-term and the market will calm down when it sees the oil supply is secured," Mehdi Asali said.

He called oversupply the "biggest threat" to the market and said countries that had raised their crude production when international economic sanctions on Iran were imposed were the ones that should now cut back to stabilize the market.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia also signaled that the new rift would not affect talks on the Syria civil war. Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said last weekend Iran would not seek to distort the markets but will make sure it regains its market share.

Iranian crude oil exports have fallen to around 1 million barrels per day, down from a peak of almost 3 million bpd in 2011, before western sanctions against Tehran started.

It previously said it planned to raise oil output by 500,000 bpd post-sanctions and by another 500,000 bpd shortly after.