Iran to Raise Oil Output 'at Any Cost' to Defend Market Share

(Bloomberg) -- Iran plans to raise oil production “at any cost” to defend the country’s market share and joins calls for an emergency OPEC meeting to help shore up crude prices.

“We will be raising our oil production at any cost and we have no other alternative,” said Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, according to his ministry’s news website Shana. “If Iran’s oil production hike is not done promptly, we will be losing our market share permanently.”

Iran had the second-biggest output in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries before U.S.-led sanctions banning the purchase, transport, finance and insuring of its crude began July 2012. Oil producers such as BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have expressed interest in developing its reserves, the world’s fourth-biggest, once sanctions are removed.

Zanganeh was speaking during the first visit by a British foreign secretary to Iran since 2003. Philip Hammond was accompanied by officials from Shell and BP during his visit to reopen the U.K. embassy, four years after it was shut down following a mob attack, marking the improvement in relations since July’s nuclear accord.

Shell will pay a debt of $2.3 billion that the company wasn’t able to pay Iran for because of the sanctions “immediately” after the restrictions are lifted, Zanganeh said. BP was one of the “good customers” of Iran’s crude before the sanctions and is also expected to take measures to buy Iranian oil in the future, he said, according to Shana.

Iran backed calls for an emergency OPEC meeting to be held earlier than the oil producing group’s next session on Dec. 4.

“Iran endorses an emergency OPEC meeting and would not disagree with it,” Zanganeh said. A meeting would “be effective” in halting oil’s decline, he said.


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