TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran’s oil minister said on Sunday that U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and tensions in Libya have made the supply-demand balance in the global oil market fragile, and warned of consequences for increasing pressures on Tehran.
Oil prices have risen more than 30 percent this year on the back of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and U.S. sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela, plus escalating conflict in OPEC member Libya.
"Oil prices are increasing every day. That shows the market is worried,” Bijan Zangeneh was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
"Venezuela is in trouble. Russia is also under sanctions. Libya is in turmoil. Part of U.S. oil production has stopped. These show the supply-demand balance is very fragile,” Zangeneh said.
"If they (the Americans) decide to increase pressures on Iran, the fragility will increase in an unpredictable way,” he added.
Zangeneh said one of the consequences of pressure on Iran was a rise in fuel prices in the United States.
"Mr. Trump should choose whether to add more pressure on Iran or keep fuel prices low at gas stations in America,” Zangeneh was quoted as saying by the oil ministry’s news agency Shana.
The U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between it and six world powers.
Iranian exports of crude oil and condensate surged to levels near before sanctions in March, surprising market observers and affording the country an important victory in the U.S. "economic war” on Tehran.
Iran exported 1.70 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in March, the highest since October when shipments fell to 1.08 million bpd, data from shipping sources compiled by S&P Global Platts showed on Tuesday.
According to the energy and commodities information provider, Iran’s exports volumes have recovered by 60% since November, "surprising many on the market.”
That is because November was the month when U.S. President Donald Trump’s most extensive sanctions ever went into effect against Iran’s oil industry.
Trump eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports, choking off Tehran’s main source of revenue.
OPEC and its allies meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply. Saudi Arabia is considered keen to keep cutting, sources within the group said it could raise output from July if disruptions continue elsewhere.
The producer group’s supply cuts have been aimed largely at offsetting record crude production in the United States.