Last updated: 14 December, 2011

Iran says it is not concerned over possible oil sanctions

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi dismissed again Wednesday the possibility of sanctions on his country’s energy sector despite market fears of crude oil shortages that have kept prices high.

“We are not concerned that Iran’s crude oil will be sanctioned or embargoed,” he told journalists after a meeting in Vienna of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which Iran chaired.

“I really don’t think that the EU would sanction or embargo Iran’s crude oil.

“Iran’s crude oil is very important to the international oil market. We are the second OPEC producer. It would make the market very tense (if sanctions were imposed.)

Qasemi’s comments echoed those he made on Sunday in Tehran but were also accompanied by supportive talk from OPEC colleagues despite recent tensions between Iran and the cartel’s kingpin Saudi Arabia.

Iran has been at odds with Saudi Arabia following an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi envoy to Washington and Riyadh also reportedly offered to step in to help the United States and others if they suffered oil shortages due to sanctions.

Qasemi on Tuesday met for face-to-face talks with his Saudi counterpart Ali al-Naimi.

On Wednesday, OPEC Secretary General Abdullah El-Badri praised Iran’s contribution to the cartel’s latest production meeting.

“This meeting was successful,” El-Badri said.

“It is the efforts of the president, the minister of Iran, that he really made a great effort to bring the ministers together to agree on this solution.”

OPEC agreed in Vienna to an oil production ceiling of 30 million barrels per day for its 12 members, which corresponds to current overall production, effectively keeping in check over-producing Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The EU has threatened Iran with oil and financial sanctions to pressure it into cooperating over its disputed nuclear programme, which the international community fears may lead to an atomic bomb but which Tehran insists is only peaceful.