Iran says oil prices over US$55 per barrel harmful for OPEC - Fars

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ISTANBUL (Feb 23): Iran said on Thursday an increase in oil prices to more than US$55 per barrel was not in the interest of OPEC as it would lead to a rise in output by non-OPEC producers, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

"If oil prices specifically surge over US$55 or US$60 per barrel, non-OPEC producers will increase their crude production to benefit the most from the price hike," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted by Fars as saying.

"OPEC is determined to reduce its production to help manage the market."

Benchmark Brent crude oil was trading up US$1.18 a barrel at US$57.02 as of 1429 GMT.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on Nov 30 to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day for the first six months of 2017, in addition to 558,000 bpd of cuts pledged by independent producers such as Russia and Oman.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said that January data showed conformity from participating OPEC nations with output curbs had been above 90% and oil inventories would decline further this year.

Iran was exempted from the production cut as Tehran argued its output should be allowed to recover, after the lifting of international sanctions in January last year.