Iran says Saudi claims to replace its oil ‘unbelievable’

Tehran: Iran’s oil minister said on Monday that the market will never believe “exaggerated” claims by Saudi Arabia that it can replace Iranian oil shipments lost due to renewed US sanctions.

“Such exaggerations might please Mr Trump, but the market will never believe them,” Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, according to the oil ministry’s SHANA news site.

“These statements were made due to Mr Trump’s pressure on Saudi authorities. In reality, neither Saudi Arabia nor any other producer has such a capability,” he added.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg on Friday that Saudi Arabia “did (its) job and more” by making up for the recent drop in Iranian oil sales.

He said Iran’s sales had fallen by 700,000 barrels per day since the United States announced in May that it was pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposing sanctions on its oil industry.

Precise figures are unavailable, not least because Iran has begun switching off tracking devices on some oil-exporting ships since the threat of sanctions returned, according to analysts.

Iran was exporting between 2.5 and 2.7 million bpd in April before the US announced the return of sanctions.

“We export as much as two barrels for any barrel that disappeared from Iran recently,” Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg.

But Zanganeh retorted that the Saudis had only opened up “their previous reserves” to the market and that their output capacity had not increased.

The Saudi statement could have a “short-term psychological effect”, he added, but it would not mean much to global energy markets which had shown their concern over shortages by hiking prices.

The sanctions on Iran’s oil sector are not due to hit until November 5, but several key buyers in Europe and Asia have already cut purchases in recent months under pressure from Washington.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]