DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran sees no sign of a shift within OPEC toward action to support oil prices, its oil minister said, adding its oil industry could ride out a further price slump to $25 a barrel.
The comments are a further sign that despite lobbying by Iran and Venezuela, there is little chance of collective action by the 12-member OPEC to prop up prices - entrenching the reluctance of individual members to curb their own supplies.
In remarks posted on the Iranian oil ministry’s website SHANA, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh called for increased cooperation between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“Iran has no plan (to hold an emergency OPEC meeting) and is currently in consultations with other OPEC member states in a bid to prevent the sharp fall in the oil price, but these consultations have yet to bear fruit,” he said.
Oil has plunged by more than half since June 2014 to below $50 a barrel on Monday, pressured by a global glut and OPEC’s refusal at its last meeting in November to cut its output.
OPEC decided against a production cut despite misgivings from non-Gulf members such as Iran and Venezuela, after top producer Saudi Arabia argued the group needed to defend market share against U.S. shale oil and other competing sources.
Since the meeting, lobbying by Iran for a cut and a diplomatic tour by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has failed to soften the stance of the Gulf members, who can live with relatively low oil prices.
Reinforcing the impasse, the Gulf members are frustrated with the position of other countries, who call for supply cuts but do not offer any themselves.
Zanganeh said Iran had no plans to cut its own oil production and that it had no further meetings with Saudi Arabia - Iran’s main political rival in the Gulf - since the OPEC meeting.
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said countries behind the price fall would regret their decision and warned that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would suffer alongside Iran from the price drop.
Zanganeh said Iran’s budget should be based on oil at $72 per barrel, but Iran could withstand lower oil prices.
“Even if the oil price goes down to $25 a barrel, the oil industry will not be threatened,” the Fars news agency quoted him as saying.
Reporting by Michelle Moghtader in Dubai and Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; Writing by Alex Lawler; Editing by Sami Aboudi, Jason Neely, Susan Thomas and Michael Urquhart