Iran is trying to regain its lost share of global crude sales and has no intention of harming the oil market with its planned increase in production once sanctions are lifted from its economy, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said.
"The oil ministry intends to boost Iran's crude oil exports by an aggregate of 1 million barrels a day in two phases," Zanganeh said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
In the first phase, Iran will raise exports by 500,000 barrels a day within a week after the removal of international sanctions, he said Sunday. The country will add another 500,000 barrels a day in a second phase within six months after the curbs end, Zanganeh said.
Brent crude slid 35 percent last year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised output in the face of already rising global stockpiles. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, has led OPEC in fighting for market share against higher-cost producers such as shale drillers in the U.S. The group set aside its output target of 30 million barrels a day at a meeting in Vienna last month.
Brent for February settlement advanced 82 cents on Thursday, before the New Year holiday, to $37.28 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
United Nations nuclear monitors in December ended their 12- year probe of Iran's research into atomic-weapon technologies, moving the country a major step closer to relief from sanctions.
Iranian oil companies and banks may be able to return to international markets by mid-January, based on the pace at which the nation is disabling nuclear infrastructure.
As part of its efforts to increase production, the country will probably award Chinese companies development rights for the second phase of the North Azadegan oil field in southwestern Iran, Zanganeh said. Under an accord, the Chinese will have to submit a proposal to the Iranian oil ministry for examination and approval, he said, without identifying any companies. Iran pumped 2.7 million barrels a day of oil in December, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The amount of additional Iranian crude reaching foreign buyers will depend on conditions in an oil market oversupplied by 2.5 million to 3 million barrels a day, the Iranian Oil Ministry's Shana news agency reported on Saturday, citing Mohsen Ghamsari, the head of international affairs at state-run National Iranian Oil Co.