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Opec may boost oil output to record with Iran back amid glut

[TEHRAN] Opec could potentially boost crude oil production to 33 million barrels a day, the most ever, after international sanctions are removed against Iran amid a global supply glut, according to the country's Opec representative.

The global oil market is already in surplus by about 3 million barrels a day, with Saudi Arabia and Iraq responsible for Opec's oversupply in the past six months, Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Sunday, citing Mehdi Asali. Iran can boost output by 500,000 barrels a day within one week after sanctions are lifted, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said earlier this month.

Crude has lost half its value in the past year as US production jumped to the highest level in more than 40 years and Saudi Arabia had record output. Prices collapsed after Opec decided on Nov 27 to maintain production rather than sacrifice market share.

Brent oil for October settlement was trading at US$49.01 a barrel, down 0.4 per cent, at 1.18 pm London time Monday. Prices have fallen about 15 per cent this year. High supplies in North America and Opec, lack of demand growth and the strengthening dollar are all cause for the lower oil prices, Asali said.

Opec pumped 32.1 million barrels a day in July, the 14th consecutive month that the 12-nation group has produced more than its collective target of 30 million barrels, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The 12-member group's all-time high output was 32.8 million barrels set in July 2008, the data shows.

Iran made a "big mistake" when it backed Opec's decision in December 2011 to discard individual production quotas, Asali said. That allowed Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other members to take over Iran's share which was diminishing because of sanctions, he said.

BLOOMBERG