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Iran has made a big tweak to how it talks about its oil market comeback

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 13 Jan 2016

Analysts have long highlighted Iran's imminent return to the oil market asa major headwind for prices.Especially becauseIran was keen on pumping a bunchof oil as soonas sanctions were lifted (which they again seemed to indicate at December's OPEC meeting.)But as theirreturn date fast approaches, Iran hasdialeddown on the aggressive talk of flooding the zone with its oil:Iran"would not seek to distort the markets," the energy minister Bijan Zanganeh stated earlier this month."We will be more subtle in our approach and may gradually increase output. ...I have to say that there is no room to push prices down any further, given the level where they are, " Mohsen Qamsari, director general for international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), told Reuterslast week."This marks something of a shift from previous Iranian statements suggesting that the country was coming back to the oil markets with a vengeance and that they would not hold any barrels back, irrespective of the price consequences," observed the RBC Capital Markets team led by Helima Croft in a recent note."It is too soon to say whether this is anything more than a rhetorical shift, but we not believe that they can pull a rabbit out of a hat and get their aging fields to produce more than an additional 500 kb/d without a new wave of investment," they added.Notably, this shift in rhetoric comes at a time whenthings aren't going so great with oil prices. Oil has been hovering in the low $30's per barrel range, andeven crashed below $30/barrelon Tuesdayfor the first time since December 2003.Currently,WTI is trading around $31.11 per barrel, while Brent is trading around $31.54 per barrel.Andlow oil prices aren't exactly ideal for Iran,as Oppenheimer's James Schumm recently noted in a research report:"Though low oil prices hurt Saudi Arabia, they negatively impact Iran in a much greater way and it crimps Iran's ability to fund sectarian uprisings in Saudi Arabia's backyard. Essentially, [the Saudis]are forcing Iran to choose between higher oil prices and the economic prosperity that comes with it, and the desire to foment Shia uprisings in the Middle East. In essence we believe Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a war without tanks and jets but one with oil prices."Still,it's important to notethat rhetoric is rhetoricnot action.So even thoughIran toned down the aggressive language, ultimately what's more important is what they actuallydo if/when sanctions are lifted.SEE ALSO:14 incredible facts about TexasJoin the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: What this symbol that's on nearly half of your food actually means
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