September 11, 2012 / 7:56 AM / 5 years ago

Iran says oil prices too low, may rise more

Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi (C) talks to journalists before a meeting of OPEC oil ministers at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, June 14, 2012.Heinz-Peter Bader

DUBAI (Reuters) - Crude oil prices are still low and could rise further, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said on Monday, the same day Saudi Arabia said prices are too high and would work to moderate them.

"In our view, the price of oil is still low and has the potential to rise further," Qasemi was quoted as having said on Monday by Iran's oil ministry news website on Tuesday.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Monday the world's largest oil producer was worried about high oil prices and would try to moderate them.

But OPEC price hawk Iran, which needs high oil prices to compensate for lower sales volumes under Western sanctions, believes prices could rise further in months to come.

Qasemi said lower oil output from North Sea oil fields in Europe could push up prices.

When asked how Iran viewed the possibility of the United States releasing stocks from strategic petroleum reserves to try to temper the surge in prices, he said it was normal for oil prices to rise going into winter in the northern hemisphere.

U.S. administration officials met energy analysts at the end of last week in a meeting interpreted by some as a sign that President Barack Obama is considering tapping U.S. government oil supplies in a bid to bring down fuel.

Brent crude oil prices have surged about 20 percent since OPEC last met in June, hovering between $112-$117 a barrel since mid-August.

Despite Gulf OPEC producers raising production to near record levels to make up for lower Iranian supplies, lingering tensions over Iran's disputed nuclear program and field outages in the North Sea have counteracted any downward pressure on prices from fears over slow global economic growth.

Reporting by Daniel Fineren; Editing by Alison Birrane

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