(Updates with Khatibi comment in second paragraph; embargo background in third.)
Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s OPEC Governor Mohammad-Ali Khatibi called on Arab oil suppliers to refrain from supporting a possible European embargo on Iranian crude sales, calling such help “a dangerous political game,” Shargh reported.
“If oil producers bordering the Persian Gulf show the green light to replace Iran’s crude with theirs, whatever happens, they will be key players in a move to sanction Iran’s oil,” the Tehran-based newspaper cited Khatibi as saying in an interview.
European Union foreign ministers will meet on Jan. 23 to consider barring purchases of oil from Iran, the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia. Should the bloc approve an embargo, its 27 members states would be prohibited from concluding new oil contracts with Iran or renewing any that are due to expire, an EU diplomat with knowledge of the talks said on Jan. 13.
Germany, France and the U.K. have pushed for an embargo to increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. Western countries say the Gulf state may be seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons. Iran says it wants atomic power for civilian electricity and medical research.
Chakib Khelil, OPEC’s former president, said in a Jan. 13 interview that other members of the producers’ group would be able to make up for a decline in Iranian crude supply. Iran pumped 3.575 million barrels a day in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
Khatibi, in his interview with Shargh, questioned whether OPEC had as much as 4 million barrels a day in surplus capacity. He said Arab crude producers would be able to provide oil of a grade similar to Iran’s crude, though such an effort would prove “costly” for them, the newspaper cited Khatibi as saying.
--With assistance from Thomas Penny in London and Ewa Krukowska in Brussels. Editors: Digby Lidstone, Bruce Stanley
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