Iran General NewsIran oil capacity more than 4.1 mln bpd -...

Iran oil capacity more than 4.1 mln bpd – minister

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ImageReuters: Iran has the capacity to produce more than 4.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude but is pumping at well under that level due to OPEC restraints, Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said on Saturday. By Parisa Hafezi

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has the capacity to produce more than 4.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude but is pumping at well under that level due to OPEC restraints, Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said on Saturday.

"Iran has always tried not to go beyond 3.6-3.7 million bpd to remain committed to OPEC quotas," Mirkazemi told a news conference at an oil and gas trade fair in Tehran.

The United States and its European allies are pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions to pressure Iran to curb a nuclear programme the West fears is aimed at building a bomb. Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate power.

Mirkazemi said sanctions had no impact on Iran's energy industry.

"Our customers have not stopped buying oil from Iran because of the political pressure," Mirkazemi told reporters.

Mirkazemi also spoke of Iran's potential to export gas, saying it was ready to start exporting to Switzerland as long as transit country Turkey gave its consent and Switzerland signed the contract directly with Iran.

"We are ready and we have good capacity to export gas to Switzerland even today if they get permission from Turkey, and there are some signs they will get that," Mirkazemi said.

"Our condition is that they should sign the contract directly with Iran."

Iran has the world's second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia, but U.S. and U.N. sanctions have hindered access to foreign investment and slowed its development as a major exporter. It is Turkey's second-biggest supplier after Russia.

On a long-standing dispute with the United Arab Emirates over delayed gas exports, Mirkazemi said he did not plan to hold talks with Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum which signed a 25-year contract for Iranian gas in 2001.

"We are ready to provide natural gas to Sharjah but we will not hold talks with Crescent," Mirkazemi said.

Oil prices rose after the contract was signed and some Iranian officials and politicians have called for a revision to the price formula, blaming the price dispute for delivery delays.

The offshore Salman gas field was meant to have started pumping Iran's first gas exports to the UAE in December 2005.

(Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Paul Tait)

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