Zanganeh May Not Attend Doha Meeting

Zanganeh May Not Attend Doha MeetingZanganeh May Not Attend Doha Meeting

Most members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and oil producing nations outside the organization will convene in Doha, Qatar, later this month to discuss ways to shore up oil prices, but Iran's oil minister says he will attend the conference "if he can make time" for it.

"The meeting is a positive step but certainly not enough," Bijan Namdar Zanganeh was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency on Saturday.

He added that oil prices, which sank to their lowest levels in 13 years in January before paring some losses, can recover by controlling the collective output of all oil producers.

OPEC's no. 1 exporter Saudi Arabia and the world's top oil producer Russia agreed on a plan in February to freeze their oil output at January levels.

Most other producers have since jumped on the oil freeze deal bandwagon, but Iran says it will not join the pact before boosting production to its pre-sanctions level of nearly 4 million barrels a day. It is currently pumping close to 3 million barrels a day.

In a shift of tone last week, a top Saudi official said the kingdom will only freeze its oil output if Iran and other major producers do so.

"If all countries agree to freeze production, we’re ready," Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, told Bloomberg, challenging regional rival Iran to play a role in reducing the global oil glut.

The global market reacted strongly to Salman's comments. Brent crude settled down $1.68, or 4.1%, at $39.09 a barrel on Friday. West Texas Intermediate, the US crude benchmark, settled down $1.55, or 4%, at $36.79.

Moscow says Iran has the right to be exempted from the agreement.

Last month, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Iran is liable to have an exclusive way for increasing its oil production, adding that Russia "understands" Iran's position to revive its share in the global markets.