GENEVA (Reuters) - Any country using oil as a weapon could cause the collapse of oil producer group OPEC, Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Wednesday, according to SHANA, the news outlet of the oil ministry.
Oil prices hit their highest since November in recent days after Washington said all waivers for those importing sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end this week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.
"Those who use oil as a weapon against two founding members of OPEC are disturbing the unity of OPEC and creating the death and collapse of OPEC and the responsibility for that is with them," Zanganeh said in a speech at an oil and gas conference in Tehran.
Iran will not leave OPEC, Masoud Karbasian, the chief executive of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said on Wednesday, according to SHANA.
The White House said after its Iran move it was working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure oil markets were “adequately supplied”, but traders worry about tight supplies.
The United States demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers that had allowed Iran’s eight biggest customers, most of them in Asia, to import limited volumes.
America will not, however, be able to bring Iran's oil exports to zero and two of the Islamic Republic's neighbours are exaggerating their oil production capacity, Zanganeh said, according to the Mehr news agency.
Iran is examining new ways to sell its oil, Zanganeh said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). He did not provide details.
Separately, Zanganeh said that Iran's gas output will cross 1,000 million cubic metres (mcm) this calendar year, the oil ministry reported on its Twitter account.
It did not specify whether Zanganeh was referring to the year 2019 or the Iranian calendar year which ends in March 2020.
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; editing by Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle)