TEHRAN - New Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji says the “tyrannical” U.S. sanctions have deprived Iran of 1.8 billion barrels of oil exports and more than $100 billion of revenues.
Addressing the first OPEC Plus meeting since being named to the new post, Owji also touched on the U.S. embargo against Venezuela, saying “the imposition of illegal and unilateral US sanctions on the two founding members of OPEC is contrary to the principles and rules of international law”.
The U.S. imposed its most draconian sanctions on Iran three years ago with the express aim of bringing the country’s oil exports down to zero after Washington abandoned an international nuclear deal with Tehran.
No matter how hard it tried, the U.S. did not achieve its goal and Iran continued sending its oil to the market – though in reduced volumes - using innovative ways to bypass the illegal sanctions.
Owji promised that “good things will happen in terms of oil sales in the coming months”.
“After the tyrannical sanctions, oil sales dropped dramatically but this capacity exists in the Ministry of Petroleum and all departments to sell oil,” he added.
One of the ways is to swap oil for goods or investment, Owji said, adding the potential can also be used in other sectors and industries.
Oil markets are closely watching Vienna negotiations which have been suspended since mid-June, for any clues as to when the OPEC member will be able to resume crude sales. Six rounds of talks have been held so far to bring the U.S. back to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, but Washington is dragging its feet on removing its sanctions.
Owji said Iran will return to its pre-sanctions crude production level as soon as the US sanctions are removed. “We are against using oil as a political tool that would harm the oil market.”
Petroleum ministry officials have said a removal of the sanctions could bring back 3.8 million barrels per day of Iranian oil to the market over time. They are confident of the country’s ability to increase production quickly. One senior official said recently that most output could be restored within a month.
Iranian Oil Minister Discusses Cooperation With China
On Thursday, Owji held a meeting with the officials of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to confer on ways to increase cooperation between the two sides.
The meeting was held in Vienna between Owji and Deputy Head of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)’s Middle East department Libin Zhang.
The talks focused on developing cooperation.
During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views about issues of mutual interests.
CNPC has already been active in southwestern Iranian Azadegan oilfield.
Reportedly, China has participated in development of North Azadegan oilfield whose first phase became operational five years ago.
With an area of 1,500 square kilometers, Azadegan joint oilfield is located near Iran-Iraq border.