Last month, US President Donald Trump the “highest level” of US sanctions would be implemented against Iran after the US abandoned the Iran sanction relief agreement. AP photo by Evan Vucci.  

OPEC asked to support Iran against US sanctions last month

A report by Reuters says OPEC is expected to reject a request from Iran to discuss US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country at a cartel meeting to discuss policy in Vienna set for later this month.

In a letter dated June 2 and seen by Reuters, Iran’s OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili asked the chairman of the OPEC board to add a debate over the Trump administration sanctions to the June 22 agenda.

The Ardebili correspondence follows up a request by Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh asking the cartel to support Iran against the new sanctions.

In the the letter, Zanganeh also said he disagreed with Saudi Arabia’s position that there may be a need to increase global oil supplies.

“I would like to … seek OPEC’s support in accordance with Article 2 of the OPEC Statute, which emphasizes safeguarding the interests of member countries individually and collectively,” Zanganeh wrote in a letter last month to his United Arab Emirates counterpart, Suhail Al Mazroui.   Al Mazroui is OPEC’s president in 2018.

In early May, President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 Iranian sanctions relief agreement and pledged to implement the “highest level” of sanctions against Tehran.  Behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran is the third-largest oil producer in OPEC.

Citing Zanganeh’s letter, Kazempour asked the OPEC board to include a discussion about the sanctions in the June talks under the agenda item “OPEC Ministerial Conference support to the Member Countries that are under illegal, unilateral and extraterritorial sanctions”.

According to the Reuters’ source, upon receiving the letter from Kazempour, UAE’s OPEC governor Ahmed al-Kaabi took the matter to legal counsel who responded negatively to Iran’s request.

The legal counsel said the ministerial agenda could not be amended as it had been finalized.

Also on Friday, Iran criticized an unofficial request from the United States asking Saudi Arabia to increase its production to cover a drop in Iranian exports resulting from the Trump sanctions.  Iran says it predicts OPEC will not heed the appeal.

“It’s crazy and astonishing to see instruction coming from Washington to Saudi to act and replace a shortfall of Iran’s export due to their Illegal sanction on Iran and Venezuela,” Iran’s OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told Reuters.

He added “OPEC will not accept such a humiliation. How arrogant and ignorant one could be (to) underestimate the history of 60 years’ cooperation among competitors”.

Venezuela has also written the cartel, asking the group to denounce US sanctions imposed on the South American country following the recent presidential election in Venezuela.