Baghdad will support any move to prop up prices, says Iraqi oil ministry

Iraq said Thursday it is open to freezing its oil production at January levels to help stem falling prices -- but only if big producers inside and outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agree to cap their output.

“Iraq wants the stability of the oil markets and will contribute to any action that will prop up prices, but only if all producers in OPEC and outside OPEC do the same,” Iraq Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela already have struck a tentative deal to limit production to the level it was on Jan. 11 for the rest of 2016.

The ministry comments came a day after Iran’s oil minister didn’t commit to limiting production, throwing into question the future of a plan brokered by Saudi Arabia and Russia this week for major oil producing countries to limit output to last month’s levels. One hitch: Iran, newly released from sanctions that curbed its oil output, wants to boost its production and hasn’t agreed to any cap. In recent OPEC talks, “Iran made it clear that it wants to reach pre-sanctions levels,” said an OPEC official with knowledge of the negotiations.

The efforts come as OPEC scrambles to find ways to prop up an oil market rocked by surging production that outpaces demand by more than one million barrels on any given day. Prices have fallen by two-thirds since June 2014, throwing global markets into turmoil and ravaging OPEC members such as Venezuela and Nigeria and nonmember Russia.

This report is prepared by Behrooz Haj Davani in EnergyPress web-base