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Iran's oil minister may attend freeze talks

Iran supported earlier production efforts, but later balked to derail the deal.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh is scheduled to attend production meetings next month in Algeria, though few analysts doubt the sincerity of renewed discussions. File photo by Maryam Rahmanian/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/71fc6f9a6069fbb8a813bb315ec0690e/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh is scheduled to attend production meetings next month in Algeria, though few analysts doubt the sincerity of renewed discussions. File photo by Maryam Rahmanian/UPI | License Photo

TEHRAN, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- The Iranian oil minister confirmed Thursday he would attend a meeting in Algeria where some OPEC members may consider artificial market actions.

SHANA, the official news agency for the Iranian Oil Ministry, reported Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh is scheduled to appear in what was described as a "closed-door" meeting on the sidelines of next month's International Energy Forum in Algeria.

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According to SHANA, "sources say" members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will "probably" reconsider early 2016 proposals to freeze crude oil production levels in an effort to artificially support higher crude oil prices.

Saudi Arabia revived oil production freeze talks in mid-August, adding fuel to a rally in crude oil prices, which have recovered considerable ground since collapsing below $30 per barrel in early 2016.

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Total OPEC crude oil production is higher now than what it was when production measures were first considered early this year and Iran's output in July was about 17 percent higher than during the first quarter of the year to around 3.6 million barrels per day. OPEC ministers have defended the higher production levels, pointing to an expected surge in oil demand in the third and fourth quarters of the year.

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Most analysts have expressed doubt over the possibility of coordinated action from OPEC members, with some describing it as a fantasy. Iran and Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, are historic adversaries and are at odds on a variety of geopolitical issues.

Iran has been no stranger to fueling market rumors. Zangeneh in February said there was widespread support for some sort of action if necessary. In March, however, he said that, until Iran reaches a stable production rate of around 4 million bpd, those calling for a production freeze "should leave us alone."

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Reports of Iran cooperating in Algeria circulated early this week, though Olivier Jakob, the managing director at Swiss-based energy research group Petromatrix, said those reports were "not very convincing."

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