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Iran hopes OPEC lowers output: oil minister

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iran is unhappy with the current oil prices, its oil minister said Monday, hinting at a proposal for the OPEC to lower its output to compensate for a drop in crude prices.

"Iran's suggestion has always been to reduce OPEC production ceiling," Rostam Qasemi told reporters at a petrochemical conference in Tehran.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries last week boosted production to 30.21 million barrels a day in April from 29.93 million in March maintaining a flat forecast of global demand.

The move led to lower crude prices in Asian trade on Monday.

"Market is not in a very bad situation but (the oil price) does not correspond to our expectations," Qasemi said, adding that Iran sees "ideal oil prices" above 100 dollars per barrel.

"Part of the fluctuations in oil prices is because of summer. We hope to find a solution at the next OPEC meeting," he added, referring to the OPEC meeting scheduled in Vienna on May 31.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June shed 78 cents to $95.26 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery was down 71 cents to $103.20 in Monday afternoon trade.

According to secondary sources in OPEC, Iran has dropped to the fifth biggest producer in the cartel, producing 2.70 million barrels per day in April. Its production was at 3.63 million bpd in 2011, ranking it second after Saudi Arabia.

Qasemi rejected those accounts, saying Iran's "current oil production has not decreased." He did not elaborate.

In April Qasemi confirmed a decline in production and export in 2012 without giving any figures.

Iran's oil industry has been slapped with international sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.

The European Union in 2012 stopped buying Iranian crude, forcing Tehran to seek for new customers.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130513/iran-hopes-opec-lowers-output-oil-minister