Oil closes at $37 after Iran pours cold water on idea of production cut

Oil prices slide after it emerged over the weekend that Iran has no appetite to curb its growing production.

Loonie dives oil sells off

Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh says his country is not interested in curbing oil production at less than 4 million barrels a day. (Lisi Niesner/Bloomberg)

Oil prices sold off on Monday after it emerged over the weekend that Iran has no appetite to curb its growing production.

WTI crude was trading down $1.32 to 37.18 US a barrel at the close after dipping well below $37 in earlier trading.

Iran released data showing the country pumped out an average of two million barrels a day in the past month. That's up from 1.75 million barrels per day the month before that.

Weaker oil was bad news for the Canadian dollar, which lost about a third of a cent to 75.37 cents US.

After being locked out of global oil markets for years due to UN sanctions over its nuclear program, Iran appears to be eager to make up for lost time, ramping up production quickly. Iran's oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Sunday the country has no interest in any deal that would curb output to stabilize prices until Iran can get back to four million barrels a day — about twice what it currently produces.

The last time Iran produced and sold four million barrels of oil in a day was 2008.

"They should leave us alone" Bloomberg reported Zanganeh as saying. "After that we will work with them."

Oil prices have been buoyed for weeks amid rumours that OPEC and Russia are working on a deal to cut production and would hold an emergency meeting on the matter on March 20. It now looks like that might not happen until mid-April in Doha, if at all, Reuters reported Monday, citing sources close to the negotiations.

Saudi Arabia, which dominates OPEC, has held its production relatively steady at around 10 million barrels a day for several months now, which prompted hopes the cartel could work together to limit supply long enough for prices to start inching higher.

Until those numbers come down, the oil glut that has been depressing prices won't go away any time soon. "We feel that the bulk of this stronger than expected 5-6 week price advance has been seen and that prices will be shifting," said Jim Ritterbusch of Chicago energy consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates.

North American stock markets were flat on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 50 points to 17,263 and the TSX off 29 points to 13,492.

With files from Reuters


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