Iran condemns IEA decision to release oil stocks

TEHRAN (Reuters)- Iran condemned on Saturday a decision by oil consumer nations to release strategic crude stocks as politically motivated interference in the market that would not have a sustained impact on prices.

"The measure by the International Energy Agency in consuming their oil stockpile is meddling in the natural oil market trend and the drop in oil prices will not be sustainable," Iran's OPEC governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi was quoted as saying by the Oil Ministry website SHANA.

The 28-member IEA said on Thursday it would release 60 million barrels a day over an initial 30 days to fill the gap created by the disruption to Libya's output.

Earlier this month, OPEC failed to reach consensus to increase production, which consumer countries wanted and leading exporter Saudi Arabia had pushed for, but which other producers, including Iran, opposed.

After the OPEC meeting, Saudi Arabia said it would unilaterally increase output to meet the needs of the market. Iran said the move was politically motivated as Saudi Arabia was under western pressure.

"After the United States and Europe failed to raise the organization's output in the recent OPEC meeting, they used their utmost efforts to lower the global oil price. The consumption of stocks by the IEA to compensate for the oil shortage will push down prices in an artificial way," Khatibi said.

Khatibi reiterated Iran's hawkish position about the current situation of the market.

"The international oil market is not facing any shortage and supply and demand are balanced and any measure to increase output is a political act and maneuver," said Khatibi.

"The Americans' meddling in the oil market and the consequent drop in its price is an attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election next year ," Khatibi said.

(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Ramin Mostafavi; Editing by Sugita Katyal and Toby Chopra)