Novak: Iran Has Right to Raise Oil Output

Novak: Iran Has Right to Raise Oil OutputNovak: Iran Has Right to Raise Oil Output

Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday Iran has the right to pump more barrels of oil despite a call by OPEC members and producers outside the 13-member organization to freeze output at current levels.

"Within the framework of major oil producers, Iran is liable to have an exclusive way for increasing its oil production," Novak said after meeting with Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh in Tehran.

"The issue [oil freeze deal] was discussed with Iran's oil minister. The market is volatile and prices have plunged over the past year and a half."

He added that oil producers shall coordinate with each other, but "since Iran's production decreased under sanctions, we totally understand Iran's position to increase production and revive its share in the global markets".

Zanganeh said Moscow's stance on Tehran's oil plans was "positive and heartwarming".

"Russia's stance is clear, and the publicity on Iran's return (to the oil market) is unlike what Russia's energy minister stated today," he said. Iran's oil minister on Saturday dampened the misplaced expectations of other producers after declaring that the Persian Gulf country would join oil freeze talks only after production reaches its pre-sanctions level of nearly 4 million barrels a day.

The initiative has got the backing of Saudi Arabia–de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries—and the world's biggest non-OPEC producer Russia. Iraq, Qatar, Venezuela and Kuwait have also voiced support for the deal.

Sources say a meeting between oil producers to discuss freezing crude production is unlikely to take place in Russia on March 20 as Iran will not attend it.

Once the second-largest producer of OPEC and now its third-largest, the country's crude export fell to a little more than 1 million barrels a day in 2014 from 2.6 million bpd in 2011, the year before the US and European Union intensified sanctions.

Novak was also slated to discuss a bevy of energy projects with his counterpart Hamid Chitchian on Monday, including the construction of a 1,400-MW power plant along with a water treatment unit by Russian contractors.

Chitchian said in a statement ahead of the meeting that Tehran and Moscow would examine new financing terms for the energy projects.