ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran said oil prices would not rise above $60 a barrel until 2016 and that it would increase crude exports if Western sanctions over its nuclear program were lifted, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Friday.
“We’re not expecting oil prices to go over $60 until 2016. What will happen after that is not clear,” Mehr quoted National Iranian Oil Co’s head of international affairs, Mohsen Ghamsari, as saying.
“When sanctions are lifted, it is our natural and legal right to increase our oil sales in an effort to raise market share.”
U.S. and EU sanctions that came into force in 2012 prohibit the import, purchase and transport of Iranian petroleum products.
World powers are in talks with Iran to try to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from the sanctions that have crippled the major oil exporter’s economy.
“Sanctions have not been imposed on Iran’s oil sales but rather on purchases of Iran’s oil, and we have been selling oil to a limited number of countries,” Ghamsari said.
Five countries - China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey - still buy Iranian oil. But they are taking just 1-1.2 million barrels a day, about half what Iran shifted before the introduction of sanctions, when more than a dozen countries were buyers.
“By selling more crude we are aiming to secure Iran’s position in the oil market and to increase our share in the market,” he said.
Brent crude oil rose to around $61 a barrel on Friday as fighting in Libya and Iraq stoked output worries, while traders kept a close eye on Iran nuclear talks that could eventually bring more supply to world markets.
Brent was up 60 cents a barrel at $61.08. U.S. light crude was up 30 cents at $51.06 a barrel.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by David Clarke and Dale Hudson