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Sanctions closing in, Iran to attend September OPEC monitoring committee to protest oil quota reallocation

London — Iran will send its oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, to a September meeting of the monitoring committee overseeing OPEC's supply accord with Russia and other allies, in another bid to preserve the sanctions-hit country's crude market share.

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The Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee is scheduled to meet September 23 in Algeria, just six weeks before US sanctions that could shut in 1 million b/d or more of Iran's crude sales are scheduled to take effect November 5.

Chaired by Iran's chief geopolitical rival Saudi Arabia, the JMMC is tasked with assessing member compliance with production quotas in force since January 2017.

But with OPEC and its partners agreeing in late June to a 1 million b/d output rise, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih has said the committee will be responsible for reallocating those quotas, given some countries' inability to pump more.

That has drawn fierce opposition from Zanganeh, who maintains that the deal does not allow countries to produce beyond their individual quotas.

Besides Falih, the committee comprises ministers from Russia, Kuwait, Venezuela, Algeria and Oman. Zanganeh is not a member, though ministers from the 24 participating countries in the OPEC/non-OPEC deal are welcome to observe its proceedings.

His attendance at the September meeting was confirmed to S&P Global Platts by an Iranian oil ministry official who declined to comment further.

Since the output increase was announced, the minister has written several strongly worded letters to his OPEC counterparts denouncing their production boosts and accusing them of violating OPEC statutes, which require the organization to act in the collective interest of all members.

In his latest letter, addressed August 8 to UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei, who holds OPEC's rotating presidency for 2018, Zanganeh said he would call for an extraordinary OPEC meeting if the JMMC does not refrain "from making any attempts to redistribute the over-conformity, including, among OPEC member countries, or, between OPEC and non-OPEC countries, as this is beyond the mandate of JMMC and it contradicts the decision made at the 171st Meeting of the OPEC Conference."

The next regular OPEC meeting is December 3 in Vienna.

--Herman Wang,

--Edited by Maurice Geller,