Sunday, March 19, 2006

Iran OPEC Governor Sees No Benefit In Using Oil As Weapon

TMC Net:
Iran's OPEC governor said Sunday that the use of oil as a weapon in the existing tension between Iran and the West over the Islamic regime's nuclear program won't be in the interest of either side.

Hussein Kazempour-Ardebili said if Iran decides to stop its export of about 2.5 million barrels a day of oil to the international market, the price of this commodity might ascend to as high as $100 a barrel, but the higher price won't benefit Iran.

"Prices might rise to around $100 per barrel. But when we don't sell any oil, what difference does it make how much the price is," the Persian daily Sharq quoted Kazempour as saying. READ MORE

In case of the withdrawal of the Iranian crude from the global market, the conditions will be improved for Iran's competitors to sell their oil at a much higher price and enhance their chances of building production capacity, he said.

Kazempour said, likewise, if consuming countries decide to damage Iran economically and boycott its oil, the long-term prospect will be equally dim for them by losing access to the safe supply of oil from Iran with a production capacity of 4.2 million b/d, of which 2.5 million b/d are exported.

"In other word, the use of oil as a weapon would not have long-term benefits for either producer or consumer side," Kazempour said.

He called attention to Iran's efforts during the 1980-1988 war with neighboring Iraq during which Iran tried to maintain its position as an oil exporting country under circumstances in which Baghdad tried to make the Persian Gulf waterway unsafe for the Iranian oil export by attacking oil tankers.

Kazempour also issued a veiled warning to Arab oil producing countries of the Persian Gulf - particularly Saudi Arabia - who try to encourage the West to place Iran under trade and economic sanctions by assuring them of additional supply of oil in case that of Iran is taken out of the market.

"Everybody knows that security in our region is an integrated one," he said, adding either all parties have it or no country has it, Kazempour said.

Kazempour's sentiments about the necessity of keeping the Persian Gulf safe for all the waterway's member states echoed those of other Iranian government's officials in recent weeks.

Iran's interior minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, said last week that if Iran is placed under trade or economic sanctions or its access to the waterway is restricted, it will use whatever means at its disposal to make the waterway unsafe for other oil exporting countries of the region as well.

The bulk of the world oil passes through the narrow Strait of Hormuz over which Iran exercises a lot of control.

Kazempour ruled out the likelihood that the U.S. might use military force to put Iranian oil facilities in southern Iran out of use in case of heightened tension between the two adversaries.

"There is a great opposition in the international public opinion in regard to an attack against oil facilities. Since the world's energy security depends on preservation of oil facilities, irrespective of what country they belong to," he said.

The U.N. Security Council took up Iran's nuclear case earlier this month after the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, sent a report asking it to decide about Iran's nuclear activities.

Senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the council are meeting Monday to break their deadlock and reach an agreement on a statement aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran, the second largest producer within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, possesses 12% and 15% of the world's proven oil and natural gas reserves, respectively.