ANKARA (Reuters) - Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to quit a multinational nuclear deal would not affect Tehran’s oil exports.
“Trump’s decision will not have any impact on our oil export ... that era is history now,” he told state television.
Trump announced a U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal on Tuesday and said he was preparing new sanctions against Iran.
Zanganeh said foreign investment was needed to develop Iran’s its oil industry, but that it could survive even if foreigners decided to stay away for fear of U.S. penalties.
“If foreigners invest in Iran, it will accelerate the development of our oil sector but, if not, we will not die,” he said.
The U.S. Treasury said on Tuesday that the United States would reimpose a wide array of Iran-related sanctions after the expiry of 90- and 180-day wind-down periods, including sanctions aimed at Iran’s oil sector and transactions with its central bank.
Under the deal reached in 2015 between Iran and six major powers, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in return for lifting most international sanctions that crippled the country’s economy.
Since the sanctions were lifted in 2016, major European companies, partly wary of the remaining U.S. sanctions on Iran, have been reluctant to do business with Tehran, which needs to attract over $100 billion in foreign investment to boost its crude output.
New U.S. sanctions will include measures aimed at its oil and shipping sectors, with a six-month “wind down” period “to allow companies to end contracts, terminate business, (and) get their money out”, according to the U.S. State Department.
In the wake of new U.S. sanctions, some buyers of OPEC’s third-largest oil producer said on Wednesday they would seek U.S. exemptions to purchase Iranian crude.
Zanganeh said Iran’s crude production was about four million barrels per day (bpd), almost four percent of global output.
“I expect the production to remain the same until the end of this (Iranian) year,” Zanganeh said. The Iranian year ends on March 20.
During the last round of sanctions, Iran’s oil supplies fell by around one million bpd, but the country re-emerged as a major oil exporter after sanctions were lifted by producing 3.81 million bpd in March 2018.
In reaction to a Tweet last month by Trump that accused OPEC of “artificially” boosting oil prices, Zanganeh said “Trump is not honest about oil prices ... He wants higher prices”.
Crude prices slipped on Thursday, giving up early gains as investors took profits on a rally triggered by potential disruption to oil flows from Iran.
“I personally prefer a stable crude price of $65 per barrel,” Zanganeh said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers began to reduce oil output in January 2017 in an attempt to erase a supply glut and prop up prices. They have extended the pact until December 2018, and meet in June to review policy.
OPEC, however, is in no hurry to decide whether to pump more oil to make up for an expected drop in exports from Iran, four sources familiar with the issue said, saying any loss in supply would take time.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Editing by William Maclean