A historic deal among some of the world's biggest oil producers to freeze production could be inked in April and exclude Iran, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said today.
Speaking after a meeting with Iranian officials in Tehran, Novak said Iran has a right to duck out of the deal until the recovery of its oil output, which had been hit by now-lifted international sanctions over its nuclear programme.
"We share (the view) that Iran is in a special situation. The sanctions that had been introduced had materially hit (Iran's) output," he said after the meeting with his Iranian counterpart Bijan Zanganeh.
Novak added that a final agreement on an output freeze to support oil prices is seen next month, possibly again in Doha.
Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela met in Doha last month, subsequently saying they were ready to freeze output at January levels if other producers did the same.
However, Iran has refused to join discussions until its oil production reaches four million barrels per day.
Analysts have since cautioned a production freeze deal would be meaningless without Iraq and Iran's participation, because they're the only producers expected to materially ramp up output this year.