Until recently, Iran was portrayed as the "black sheep" of major oil producer group OPEC, having previously rejected plans to cut or freeze production – but now Iraq is increasingly looking like the potential dissenter in the 14-member organization.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Iraq – OPEC's second-largest producer – had invited a host of influential organizations and media groups to the country in late October to assess its oil production levels.
The move comes ahead of potential wranglings between OPEC members over output allocations, following a deal agreed in late September to cut production to between 32.5 million and 33.0 million barrels per day (bp/d).
OPEC's output was estimated to be at 33.24 million bpd in August, so the deal effectively re-establishes a production ceiling largely ignored in the last year.
The agreement was also surprising because Iran – which has previously refused to consider cutting its own oil production – appeared to be on board. However, the finer details of the deal – notably, the awkward part ascertaining who will actually cut output to meet the reduced output level – have yet to be agreed.
Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, told CNBC Thursday that while OPEC as a whole (and specifically the group's de facto leader Saudi Arabia) was definitely keen on achieving higher oil prices by cutting back on supply, Iran could be the risk factor.
"The message is very clear that OPEC is keen on high prices and there is a lot of pressure on them to act," Sen said.