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Iran to join Doha oil talks without output cap

Iran says it seeks its share on the global oil market. (file photo)

A new report says Iran is all set to attend an upcoming meeting on crude production of fellow OPEC members plus Russia in the Qatari capital, but without joining their proposal for an output cap.

The Bloomberg report, citing an ‘informed’ source, said Tuesday that Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh will attend the discussions in Doha on April 17.

Zangeneh has already dismissed any freeze agreement that might apply to Iran since the nation aims to revive production after nuclear sanctions were lifted in January.

Earlier this month, Russia’s energy minister said a future global oil deal on production ceiling might temporarily exempt Iran from freezing its output level.

Alexander Novak said on March 14 that an international agreement to freeze oil production could be signed in April, which may exclude Iran as it has the right to boost output after years of sanctions.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela, leading oil producers, met in the Qatari capital last month and expressed readiness to hold output at January levels if other crude producers followed suit.

A final deal on production freeze to support oil prices, which have fallen 65 percent since peaking in June 2014 due to oversupply, is seen next month, possibly in Doha again, Reuters quoted Novak as saying.

The Russian minister noted that the agreement could exclude Iran as it seeks to regain market share after sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear program were effectively lifted in January.

"We share (the view) that Iran is in a special situation. The sanctions that had been introduced had materially hit (its) output," Novak said after meeting with his Iranian counterpart Bijan Namdar Zangeneh.

Iran now reportedly produces around 3.1 million bpd of oil. The sanctions had cut crude exports from a peak of 2.5 million bpd before 2011 to just over 1 million bpd in recent years.

Iran’s attendance means all 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) except Libya are scheduled to take part in the freeze talks.

Some OPEC members’ readiness to abide by any commitment to freeze production levels may soon be tested as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait plan to restart their shared Khafji oilfield. Production at Khafji, halted since October 2014 because of environmental concerns, will soon resume in “small quantities,” Kuwaiti state news agency Kuna reported, citing acting Oil Minister Anas al-Saleh.

Restarting Khafji means the countries will need to reduce output somewhere else in order to keep their output steady, said the Bloomberg report.

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