Will Iran successfully make an oil comeback post-sanctions?

Published August 20th, 2015 - 12:27 GMT

Once sanctions pressure on the energy sector is released, Iran must work to reclaim its share of the global market, a government spokesman said.

Iran, under the terms of a November 2013 agreement, is allowed some oil exports in exchange for commitments to curb parts of its nuclear research activity. A multilateral agreement reached in July to further curb nuclear research activity could result in more export options.

Iran in December produced just under 2.8 million barrels per day, down about 20 percent from 2011 levels. The country reported to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil production for July at 3.13 million bpd, an increase of six tenths of a percent from the previous month.

Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said Iran plans a full return to the market even in an era of low crude oil prices.

"We must close ranks to revive our share in the oil market," he said.

Crude oil prices are trading in a depressed market amid concerns about oversupply in a weakening global economy. The US Energy Information Administration in last week's short-term market report cut its forecast for West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices by $6 per barrel to $49 per barrel for 2015.

"Concerns over the pace of economic growth in emerging markets, continuing (albeit slowing) supply growth, increases in global liquids inventories, and the possibility of increasing volumes of Iranian crude oil entering the market contributed to the changed forecast," EIA said in a daily brief.

EIA said Iran has the capacity to increase crude oil production by around 600,000 bpd by the end of next year.

The Iranian government spokesman said the slump in oil prices was part of a tacit move to put pressure on Tehran, which had struggled economically in part because of sanctions. Other producers, he said, must be prepared to make room for Iran's eventual return to the global oil market.

Crude oil production in the pre-sanctions era in Iran was around 3.6 million bpd.

A report from Columbia University said new oil will flow from Iran, but likely not at the levels that most optimists predict.

By Daniel J. Graeber

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