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Iran dismisses oil production freeze as 'joke': minister

[TEHRAN] Iran's oil minister on Tuesday dismissed an output freeze deal between the world's top two producers Saudi Arabia and Russia as "a joke", the ISNA news agency reported.

"Some neighbouring countries have increased their production over the years to 10 million barrels per day and export this amount, then say let's all freeze our oil production," Bijan Zanganeh said.

"They freeze production at 10 million bpd and we freeze at 1 million bpd. This is a very funny joke." In a bid to stabilise an oversupplied market, Russia and OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Qatar announced Tuesday that they had reached a preliminary deal to freeze output at January levels, provided that other major producers followed suit.

The news sparked hopes the market would stabilise after sinking to near 13-year lows last week on the stubborn supply glut - but disappointed those looking for an output cut.

Iran, which has the world's second-largest crude reserves, has increased production since a deal with Western powers ended sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.

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Zanganeh said in response to the freeze announcement that "there is room for discussion" but that it "won't relinquish" market share.

AFP

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