Iran welcomes U.S. firms, rejects Russia-Saudi oil freeze plan

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Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iran has said it has no plans to freeze its oil production, in a blow to a deal reached last month between Russia and Saudi Arabia to curb falling global oil prices.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told Iran’s Press TV on March 13 that other oil-producing countries should “leave us alone.”

Iran Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. / Reuters
Iran Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. / Reuters

Zanganeh added Tehran would only consider a freeze after it increases production to 4 million barrels a day, the level it saw before international sanctions were imposed due to concerns about its nuclear program.

Zanganeh has previously said an oil freeze would be a “joke” and Iran wanted to recover its lost market share.

According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iran’s current oil production is between 2.8 million and 3.5 million barrels a day.

The Russian-Saudi deal, to which OPEC members Venezuela and Qatar also agreed to, is aimed at boosting global oil prices, which have fallen by up to 70 percent since their peak in mid-2014.

Since the removal of the international sanctions Iran has been trying to regain its share of the global petroleum market.

Zanganeh also welcomed U.S. companies to invest in Iran’s oil and gas sector.

“In general, we have no problem with the presence of American companies in Iran,” Zanganeh told Press TV.

The minister said it is the U.S. government that is “creating restrictions for these companies.” But he did not elaborate.

All international sanctions related to Iran’s disputed nuclear program were lifted in January under a historic deal reached between Tehran and major world powers in July 2015.

However, Washington maintains separate sanctions imposed on Iran over its ballistic-missile program and it support for State Department-designated terrorist groups.

Zanganeh also told Press TV that he has asked German company Siemens to invest in Iran’s petroleum sector.

“The German company must come to Iran to build equipment and parts needed in our oil industry and manufacture them here,” Zanganeh said.