'Oil is not a weapon': Iran's energy minister urges OPEC to condemn President Trump

  • The U.S. president has sought to publicly intervene in OPEC's policymaking ahead of a key meeting for the 14-member oil cartel on Friday.
  • Trump, perhaps wary of the average U.S. gasoline price hovering near $3 a gallon, has sought to hold OPEC accountable for a recent upswing in oil prices.
  • However, Zanganeh said it was Trump who had created difficulty for the oil market by imposing sanctions against Iran and Venezuela yet he now expects OPEC to deal with the consequences by pumping more.

President Donald Trump's attempt to politicize the oil market should be castigated by OPEC, according to Iran's energy minister.

The U.S. president has sought to publicly intervene in OPEC's policymaking ahead of a key meeting for the 14-member oil cartel on Friday, complaining in a pair of tweets that the Middle-East-dominated group is to blame for crude prices recently soaring to multi-year highs.

"Oil is not a weapon — it is not a political tool to be used against some countries, producers or consumers," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters on Tuesday in Vienna, Austria where OPEC and non-OPEC producers, including Russia, are due to meet this week.

"OPEC is not a political organization and I believe it is necessary for OPEC to support this idea that the market should be depoliticized and condemn any use of oil as a weapon or as a tool against some countries," he added.

Trump, perhaps wary of the average U.S. gasoline price hovering near $3 a gallon, has sought to hold OPEC accountable for a recent upswing in oil prices.

However, Zanganeh said it was Trump who had created difficulty for the oil market by imposing sanctions against Iran and Venezuela yet he now expects OPEC to deal with the consequences by pumping more.

"President Trump thinks that [he] can order OPEC and instruct to OPEC to do something… It's not fair, I think, and OPEC is not a part of the Department of Energy of the United States," Zanganeh said.

Key meeting

OPEC is not scheduled to make a decision over production policy until Friday, though the gathering is already shaping up to be one of the most contentious meetings in years.

De-facto OPEC leader and top crude exporter, Saudi Arabia, has been pushing, alongside Russia, for the cartel to loosen its supply controls — which were introduced in January 2017 in order to prop up prices.

However, other OPEC members, including Iran, Iraq and Venezuela, are currently lobbying against any change in current policy.

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh talks to journalists during a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, November 30, 2016.
Heinz-Peter Bader | Reuters
Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh talks to journalists during a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, November 30, 2016.

OPEC reached a historic agreement with Russia and other non-members in late 2016 to keep 1.8 million barrels per day off the market. That arrangement has cleared a global glut of crude oil that sent oil prices tumbling from more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to less than $30 a barrel in 2016.

International benchmark Brent crude has since rebounded to about $75 a barrel.

— CNBC's Patti Domm and Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.