Iran's oil ministry said yesterday it was studying a presidential proposal to sell cheap crude to poor countries a plan redolent of Venezuela's attempts to counter US influence through cut-rate energy exports.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in April proposed strengthening the OPEC fund to lighten the burden of surging oil prices on poorer countries while ensuring that rich nations paid the full price.
Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said the world's fourth biggest oil exporter was weighing this idea.
"The president's proposal of selling cheap oil to poor countries is being studied and analyzed," Vaziri-Hamaneh was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
"The president has appointed the oil and economy ministers to assess his proposal," he added.
However, Vaziri-Hamaneh cautioned the proposal would take a long time as parliamentary approval would be needed for any cuts in the price of crude exports.
Energy accounts for 80 per cent of Iran's export earnings.
Ahmadinejad has formed a strong alliance with fellow anti-US President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the world's fifth biggest oil exporter.
Chavez has been sewing up cheap oil export deals around poor countries in the Caribbean and Central America in a bid to outflank the United States, whose Free Trade Area of the Americas he vehemently opposes.
Source: China Daily