Iran warns Gulf Arabs on oil

Last Updated: Sunday, January 15, 2012 - 20:42

Cairo: Iran warned Gulf Arab oil producers
against boosting production to offset any potential drop in
Tehran`s crude exports in the event of an embargo affecting
its oil sales, the latest salvo in the dispute between the
West and the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

The comments by Iran`s OPEC governor, published Sunday,
came as Saudi Arabia`s oil minister was quoted the same day
denying that his country`s earlier pledges to boost output as
needed to meet global demand was linked to a potential
siphoning of Iranian crude from the market because of
sanctions.

World oil markets have been jolted over concerns that
Iran may choke off the vital Strait of Hormuz in retaliation
for sanctions hampering its ability to sell its oil. Saudi
Arabia and other key Gulf Arab producers have recently said
they are ready to provide stable and secure supplies of oil.

The US recently imposed sanctions targeting Iran`s
central bank and, by extension, refiners` ability to buy and
pay for crude. The European Union is also weighing an embargo
on Iranian oil, while Japan, one of Iran`s top Asian
customers, has pledged to buy less crude from the country.

Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran`s OPEC governor, was quoted
Sunday by the pro-reform Shargh newspaper as saying that
attempts by Gulf nations to replace Iran`s output with their
own would make them an "accomplice in further events."

"These acts will not be considered friendly," Khatibi
said, adding that if the Arab producers "apply prudence and
announce that they will not participate in replacing oil, then
adventurist countries will not show interest," in the embargo.

The embargo concerns are linked to Iran`s nuclear
program. The West maintains Iran is enriching uranium for
weapons purposes while Tehran says its program is for purely
peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

Saudi Arabia, the world`s largest oil producer and a
close U.S. ally, had said that it was ready to raise its
output to accommodate global market needs.

The country is the only member of the 12-nation
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that has
significant spare capacity, currently estimated at roughly
more than 2 million barrels per day.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012 - 20:42

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