Business | Sat Sep 6, 2008 1:29pm IST

Iran says more oil price falls would harm producers

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's oil minister said a continued fall in crude prices would harm producers, the Oil Ministry website Shana reported on Saturday, three days before OPEC ministers are due to meet in Vienna.

Gholamhossein Nozari also said Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, wanted a "fair" crude price but did not elaborate. Earlier this week, he said $100 a barrel was the lowest appropriate price.

Crude has tumbled from a record $147 in July and was trading on Friday at below $107.

"If the reducing trend in prices continues like now ... the producers will be harmed," Nozari told Shana, making clear this was because production costs had not fallen.

In the run-up to the Sept. 9 meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iranian oil officials have said OPEC members should cut output to their agreed targets so that oversupply on the market was reduced.

Iran's OPEC governor, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, this week told Reuters that OPEC may need to cut oil supplies by as much as 1.5 million barrels per day, or nearly 5 percent, to balance global markets by early next year.

Iran is traditionally hawkish on price. Another price hawk, Venezuela, said record prices near $150 were "irrational" and that they would probably settle around $100.

OPEC does not officially have quotas but the term is sometimes used to describe agreed output targets for each member country. Some, notably Saudi Arabia, have been producing above these targets.

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