DUBAI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Iran's oil ministry said on
Wednesday only it could comment with authority on the country's
oil production, rejecting reports of a 45 percent fall in oil
earnings sourced to a parliamentary budget committee.
A committee spokesman was quoted by the ISNA news agency on
Monday saying that Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi had told committee
members that Iran's oil sales volumes had fallen by 40 percent
and its earnings by 45 percent in the last nine months,
reflecting the impact of sanctions.
An oil ministry spokesman rejected the account, saying only
the ministry could make "valid" comments on the state of the
industry, the Shana news agency reported.
"(The) Petroleum Ministry has left behind tough consequences
of early days of sanctions with cooperation of oil industry's
workforce and experts," spokesman Alireza Nikzad-Rahbar said.
Iranian oil exports fell to 860,000 barrels per day (bpd) in
September 2012 from 2.2 million in late 2011, the International
Energy Agency IEA estimates.
Both the United States and European Union have stepped up
efforts to starve Tehran of funds for its disputed nuclear
Iranian oil industry officials usually publicly deny there
has been any big impact of Western restrictions on oil sales,
but some Iranian members of parliament have recognised the
impact of sanctions.
The semi-official Fars news agency reported in November that
Iran's state budget for the next fiscal year may assume exports
of just 1 million bpd, which implies Iran expects to earn around
$110 million less per day from oil sales than before sanctions
tightened in early 2012.
(Reporting by Daniel Fineren; editing by Jason Neely)