Iranian oil minister calls on OPEC to prevent price slide

Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh has urged OPEC members to “make joint efforts” to keep oil prices from falling further, the oil ministry website Shana reported on Friday.

“Considering the downward trend in prices, OPEC members should try to temper (adjust) production to avoid further price instability”, Shana quoted Zanganeh as saying.

Brent crude traded near $97 a barrel on Friday, but was set for its third weekly fall in four weeks as hefty production erased price gains and outweighed concerns that rising tensions in the Middle East have disrupted supplies.

Oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are scheduled to meet in Vienna on Nov. 27 to consider whether to adjust their output target of 30 million barrels per day (bpd) for early 2015.

The world’s top oil exporter, OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia, is likely to keep its crude output steady throughout the rest of the year as world oil consumption is expected to rise and domestic demand for crude eases in winter.

Last week, OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said he expected the group’s production to be around 29.50 million bpd in 2015.

But the United Arab Emirates, a core Gulf OPEC producer, said it was too early to predict a cut in the output target and saw existing prices as fair.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi appeared to downplay concerns about the recent drop in oil prices. A Gulf source told Reuters last week demand would recover in the fourth quarter, though prices may stay at times below $100 a barrel.

But a price slide below OPEC’s preferred $100 a barrel over the past few weeks and a rise in supplies as more crude comes online from Libya amid weaker-than-expected demand from Asia have raised concern among some oil exporters.

Analysts said Badri’s comments were a sign that some in OPEC were becoming worried by lower prices.

Riyadh, like other Gulf OPEC producers, can tolerate oil at or below $90 a barrel for months as it built a budget surplus on higher prices in most of the first half of the year.

Other oil exporters such as OPEC member Iran or major non-OPEC producer Russia may face budget shortages at current price levels as they rely heavily on oil sales.

On Tuesday, a senior Iranian official said he expected oil to drop to $90 a barrel before the year-end, Shana reported.

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