December 30, 2015 / 11:34 AM / 4 years ago

Iran's OPEC envoy predicts oil could reach $50 in 2016

A gas station worker fuels a vehicle in Tokyo August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s national representative to Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) predicted oil prices in 2016 at between $35 to $50 a barrel, but that they would not go above $60 in the next four years.

Iran drafted a state budget for next fiscal year (starting on March 20) based on oil at around $35-40 a barrel.

“The oil prices in the next year (2016) will fluctuate between $35 to $50, so Iran is not worried about a fall of its oil income,” Mehdi Asali was quoted as saying by the oil ministry’s news agency, SHANA on Wednesday.

Iran has repeatedly blamed its regional rival Saudi Arabia and fellow OPEC-member for plotting to bring down crude prices as a tactic to undermine its sanctions-hit economy.

“OPEC members should find a solution to (fall of oil prices) as this situation is not economically in their interest... Saudi Arabia has said it would only cut its oil production if Iran, Iraq and Russia do so,” Asali added.

Despite the oil price slump, Iran has vowed to ramp up crude oil production and reclaim its lost share of exports shortly after international sanctions are lifted, expected in January 2016.

Iran’s crude oil exports could rise by half a million barrels per day within 6-12 months once sanctions against it are removed.

Asali also predicted that global demand for crude oil will exceed 94 million barrels per day in 2016, and that the price of oil will not surpass $60 per barrel before 2020.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, editing by William Hardy

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