Minister of Oil Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said , "coronavirus has had no effect on Iran's oil production and we are producing as before. Of course, we have seen a decline in transportation and consumption inside cities,"
“The production and distribution of Iranian oil and gas is carried out without any effect from the virus outbreak,” deputy head of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Farrokh Alikhani, also said.
Iran’s oil industry is under the harshest US sanctions ever as part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” on Tehran for not submitting to Washington’s steep demands.
Zanganeh headed to Vienna Wednesday to attend a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
OPEC and its allies outside the organization are expected to consider making substantial oil production cuts to lift prices that have been battered by the coronavirus outbreak.
Participants at the so-called OPEC+ meeting will reportedly try to bring Russia on board for cutting a further one million barrels per day from their output to shore up prices which have gone down 20 percent since the start of the year.
Asked by reporters on Wednesday whether Russia would accept the request, Zanganeh said, "I don't know, we have to see."
"The Russians will be resisting to the last minute a decline in oil production so as not to reduce any (production) numbers," he said.
According to Zanganeh, OPEC+ panel, the Joint Technical Committee (JTC), has recommended a cut of at least 500,000 bpd in the second quarter.
"The oil market is currently facing a surplus in supply due to the spread of the coronavirus. It is imperative that OPEC and non-OPEC producers do their best to balance the oil market," he said.
There is already a deal in place among Russia, OPEC and other producers to cut output from Jan. 1 by 2.1 mbd.
Iran’s oil exports have sharply declined under the US sanctions, but the coercive measures have prompted the country to streamline its economy and raise non-oil exports.
The dark clouds of the sanctions have also contained a silver lining for many Iranian companies which have landed major deals in oil, gas, and other industries, formerly given to international energy giants.
The sanctions have spawned an inward-looking drive in Iran, especially in its oil industry which has gone out of its way to put unprecedented trust in local companies for implementation of some major projects.