x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Iran threat to suspend oil exports

Iran's oil minister projected a defiant stance in the face of sanctions today during an unexpected appearance in Dubai.

Iran will suspend all oil exports - causing a sharp increase in global crude prices - if the United States tightens economic sanctions further, the oil minister Rostam Ghasemi warned yesterday.

"If you continue to add to the sanctions, we will stop our oil exports to the world," he said. "The lack of Iranian oil in the market would drastically add to the price."

Mr Ghasemi added that the country was currently pumping 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil - far above Opec figures of 2.72 million bpd and International Energy Agency figures of 2.63 million bpd, a multi-decade low.

Its oil and gas industry, currently in a chokehold by western sanctions targeting its nuclear programme that prevent many international companies from pumping or transporting its oil, will receive US$100 billion (Dh367bn) in investments over the next four years, Mr Ghasemi said at an energy summit in Dubai.

Speaking on stage alongside fellow Opec ministers, he decried "incorrect political approaches" to oil markets and investment.

"The inefficacy of capitalism has aggravated the risk of inconsistency in supply and demand in the market," he said. "Belligerent and discriminatory approaches instead of liberal economic approaches has tightened the circle."

Mr Ghasemi's comments came after the EU upped sanctions against Iraq's finance and energy sectors.

* With Bloomberg News