Oil cartel backs Iran in face of looming US sanctions
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Oil cartel backs Iran in face of looming US sanctions

Head of OPEC says group must work with Tehran, a founding member, amid mounting pressure from Washington to up production and squeeze Iran’s economy

This photo from March 12, 2017, shows an Iranian laborer walking the platform of the oil facility in the Khark Island, on the shore of the Gulf. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENAR)
This photo from March 12, 2017, shows an Iranian laborer walking the platform of the oil facility in the Khark Island, on the shore of the Gulf. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENAR)

FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates — The head of OPEC said Tuesday that the oil cartel must stick together for the good of the global economy as Iran faces renewed US sanctions.

“Iran is not only a founding member of OPEC, it’s a very important member of this organization,” OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo said.

“We have no choice but continue to work with all parties,” he added.

Barkindo spoke at the Gulf Intelligence Energy Markets Forum in Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

He didn’t address how the global oil industry immediately can replace Iranian crude supplies in an already-tight market.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged the cartel to raise its production and said that other countries must stop buying oil from Iran or face US sanctions.

Output from Iran has hit its lowest level since July 2016 as top buyers India and China distance themselves from Tehran due to looming US sanctions on November 5, according to the International Energy Agency.

The sanctions are slated to be reimposed after the US pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Benchmark Brent crude already is nearing $80 a barrel and some believe it may go even higher.

In a move heavily opposed by Iran, OPEC and other oil producers including Russia agreed in June to boost crude output by around a million barrels a day, reversing course after supply cuts that had cleared a global glut and boosted prices.

In comments published Saturday, a senior Iranian official said that OPEC has “not much credit” left as some members are turning it into “a tool for the US.”

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are turning OPEC into a tool for the US and consequently the organization has not much credit left,” Iran’s OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili told the Shana newswire, affiliated to Iran’s Oil Ministry.

“It is a fact that OPEC is losing its organizational character and becoming a forum,” he added.

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