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Iran calls for cooperation with West on oil

posted 15 Apr 2011, 09:24 by Mpelembe   [ updated 15 Apr 2011, 09:26 ]

Iran's oil minister Massoud Mirkazemi urges international cooperation in the international oil sector, while dismissing economic sanctions as being "ineffective."

TEHRAN, IRAN (APRIL 15, 2011) REUTERS - Iran's oil minister Massoud Mirkazemi said on Friday (April 15) that the country is willing to enter negotiations with the west about its oil sector.

At a briefing to inaugurate the Islamic Republic's 16th International Oil, Gas, Refining, and Petrochemical

Expo, hosted in the Iranian capital, Mirkazemi urged other countries to trade oil with Iran.

"Regarding the international economy, the security of energy comes first. And the security of energy is meaningless without the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It would be better for the countries that need energy, to pursue more cooperation with the oil industry of Iran, rather than conflict," said Massoud Mirkazemi.

On the issue of global crude prices, the minister later said there was no reason to consider them too high and described the oil market, where prices have soared due to Middle East unrest, as "not extraordinary."

Brent crude held steady above 122 U.S. dollars a barrel on Friday after China's economic growth beat forecasts.

The rising price is good news for the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which is dealing with the impact of international sanctions, tightened last year, over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Tehran has dismissed the sanctions, which have discouraged western companies from investing in Iran's oil and gas sectors, as ineffective.

The country's managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company and a deputy oil minister supported this view, saying they would prove counter-productive.

"After 30 years of sanctions for the Islamic Republic... you are witness to the produce of oil that is four million and 200 thousand barrels, and 600 million metres square gas (sweet and sour). If these sanctions were truly effective, we couldn't have reached these numbers that I am presenting to you," said Javad Oji in an address to a news conference.

On providing gas supplies to neighbouring Iraq and ally Syria, Oji said: "Iraq wants gas for its power stations. This is something that it has been pursuing for two years for its powers stations near Baghdad and one in the north of Iraq. Iraq needs gas. Syria also wants gas. So both countries are in immense need of the gas of the Islamic Republic. For this reason, we started to talk with the idea that we can provide gas for Iraq and Syria. When we took a step forward, we realised that if we wanted to make an investment, it would be better for us to choose a path that opens doors to Europe also."

The U.N. Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran, reiterating its demand that it suspend uranium enrichment. The Islamic Republic has also been hit by more far- reaching sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU.