Iran sees no need for OPEC emergency meeting

Iran sees no need for an emergency meeting of the oil cartel OPEC over a recent drop in crude prices before the producers' annual session at the end of May, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said on Saturday.

"No extraordinary meeting is needed as the May 31 meeting is coming up, and the price of oil had not gone below 100 dollars per barrel for a long time," Qasemi told reporters on the sidelines of an oil and gas trade fair in Tehran.

In the last meeting of OPEC, held on December 12, oil producers decided to hold an emergency session if oil prices fall below 100 dollars per barrel, Qasemi said.

His remarks came after Venezuela's top oil official reportedly said Thursday that OPEC officials were weighing holding a special meeting on the market if prices continue to fall.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is set to meet in Vienna on May 31.

Oil prices gained Friday on speculation that OPEC plans to cut output, recovering somewhat from sharp losses earlier in the week over worries about weakening Chinese economic growth.

In New York, the main contract, WTI crude for delivery in May, added 28 cents from Thursday to end at $88.01 a barrel.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June gained 52 cents to $99.65 a barrel, unable to hold onto a rebound above the $100 line earlier in the day.

Iran is OPEC's fourth biggest producer, after Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, according to the group's data. In 2011, it ranked second.

But under sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme, Iran's output dropped to 2.67 million barrels per day in February, from 2.72 the previous month, OPEC said in April, citing secondary sources.

Qasemi did not talk about the figures but confirmed that Iran's oil production and export indeed declined in 2012.

"Our export has declined (in 2012) compared to the previous year because the European nations are not buying from us and naturally we have had a decline in oil production.

"Except for our European customers we still have our other customers and we are talking to others for new deals," Qasemi said.

Qasemi said Iran was talking to ally North Korea to buy Iranian oil.

"We hope to reach an agreement over North Korea importing oil from us," he said.

North Korea, an ally of Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, is also under Western and UN sanctions over its nuclear programme.

OPEC had voted to re-appoint Secretary General Abdullah El-Badri to lead the cartel for another year after members failed to agree on a new leader in December.

The world's biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia had been battling against Iraq and Iran to have its candidate succeed El-Badri, who has steered the cartel through the world's financial crisis as its secretary general since 2007.

Qasemi said Iran is also pushing for its own nominee, former oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari, to take El-Badri's post.

"We are still in contact with the members about our nominee, since the appointment has to happen on consensus," he said.