AFP: Iran accused the United States and its European allies on Saturday of seeking to manipulate the oil market by forcing an “artificial” reduction in prices, the oil ministry’s website SHANA reported.
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran accused the United States and its European allies on Saturday of seeking to manipulate the oil market by forcing an “artificial” reduction in prices, the oil ministry’s website SHANA reported.
“America and Europe … have done everything they could to reduce global oil prices,” Iran’s OPEC representative Mohammad Ali Khatibi, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the oil cartel, told SHANA.
“The developments of the past few days are not at all based on supply and demand or the needs of the market, but are rather a side effect of political pressure exerted particularly from the American side,” he added.
On Thursday, the International Energy Agency sparked a massive sell-off following an announcement that it planned to release 60 million barrels of crude from strategic oil stocks over the next month.
The United States, the world’s largest oil-consuming nation, took the lead in moving to draw down reserves, saying it would release 30 million barrels from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Immediately after the IEA announcement, oil prices fell sharply, dropping more than $8 in London and nearly $6 in New York. However, the price of Brent crude did not venture far from $110.
Khatibi criticized the Paris-based IEA for deciding to tap into its oil reserves, saying “this move will cause an artificial reduction in prices.”
He also warned that since the IEA’s reserves were “limited,” its members may be forced later to “buy their needed oil for even higher prices.”
The group of 28 oil-importing countries said the drawdown was a measure to make up for lost Libyan supplies, which have plummeted from 1.4 million barrels to about 200,000.
The current daily output of OPEC, which pumps 40 percent of the world’s oil, stands at about 26.15 million barrels.
After Saudi Arabia, Iran is second largest crude exporter in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Despite pressure from consumer countries, OPEC members failed to reach a consensus on raising their output in their latest meeting in Vienna on June 9.