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    An Iranian oil worker walks in Tehran's oil refinery south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

    Iran Ready to Discuss Oil Output Freeze Only 'on Its Own Terms'

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    OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers will meet next month to discuss freezing oil output. This time Iran would be ready to discuss the initiative, an Iranian energy expert told Sputnik.

    A man rides a camel through the desert oil field and winter camping area of Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015
    © AP Photo/ Hasan Jamali
    OPEC members and non-OPEC oil-producing nations may reach an agreement to freeze output at an informal meeting in Algeria next month, according to Goldman Sachs Group analysts.

    However, the bank warned that if an output freeze is agreed it would benefit other suppliers of crude. The move could prove "self-defeating" for the cartel if it led to further price gains and an increase in supply from other producers.

    "Thawing relationships between parties in conflict in areas of disrupted production would be more relevant to the oil rebalancing than an OPEC freeze, which would leave production at record highs. A production freeze would also likely prove self-defeating if it succeeded in supporting oil prices further," Bloomberg cited the report.

    Analysts also noted that Saudi Arabia and Iran are still focused on market share and are unlikely to unilaterally agree on a production freeze.

    Iran expressed its stance towards a freeze on April 17. Then 16 oil countries, which produce nearly 50 percent of global crude, met in Doha. The meeting failed due to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh said Tehran’s participation in the talks was needed. Iran ignored the meeting because it had no plans to reduce output after Western sanctions were lifted.

    Since then, Iran’s stance towards an output freeze has started to change. During the upcoming talks in Algeria, Tehran could agree on the initiative, but "on its own terms," independent Iranian energy expert Omid Shokri Kalehsar told Sputnik.

    "Tehran hopes that it would be able to increase production to the levels before sanctions were imposed. Due to Western sanctions, Iran’s production and export capabilities dropped by one million barrels a day. Now, it is very important to restore the market share Iran had before sanctions. And then Iran would be ready to consider any international initiatives, including an output freeze," the expert pointed out.

    At the same time, Iraq is now also increasing crude output and exports. Riyadh’s stance at the talks remains unclear.

    During the years of sanctions, Saudi Arabia and Iraq took Iran’s share in the global oil market.

    "But the aim of the freeze is unclear. Saudi Arabia has ramped up oil production to even higher levels compared to April, reaching a record high 10.67 million barrels per day in July. The UAE has also increased production since April, and Russia too is producing at or near post-Soviet highs. […] With so many of the participants in the Algeria meeting pushing output to high levels, the freeze will mean very little," an article on analytical website OilPrice.com read.

    The competition in the global crude market is more than just economic. Having a bigger share means more political benefits, Kalehsar said.

    According to him, the upcoming meeting in Algeria is likely to fail.

    "Chances are high that talks between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in Algeria would produce no results. Such non-OPEC countries as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and even Russia are interested in increasing production," the expert said.

    Last week, in order to boost its positions in the market, Saudi Arabia started to sell crude with discounts to countries that bought Russian oil, including Poland and Hungary. Russia was concerned about the move.

    "As I said before, a consensus between OPEC and non-OPEC producers is unlikely during the upcoming meeting. It’s possible that some countries would adhere to their previous obligations and would not increase output. Otherwise, oil prices will continue to fall because the global market is oversupplied," Kalehsar concluded.

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    talks, energy market, oil prices, OPEC, Iran, Saudi Arabia
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