On November 30, 2016, an agreement was reached in Vienna between the oil-producing (OPEC) countries to reduce production levels from 33.2 million barrels per month to 32.5 million barrels per month. This cut, which is less than 1% of global production and having come after months of discussions between the major producing countries, especially between Iran and Saudi Arabia, resulted in a considerable increase in oil prices, which immediately exceeded $50 per barrel. The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran had been anticipated on September 28, during the preliminary meeting of the OPEC countries held in Algiers. Between then and November 30, constant technical meetings were held between Saudi and Iranian delegates to finalize the agreement. The Iranian authorities attempted to delay an eventual decision as much as possible. Tehran’s goal so far has been to return to production levels close to those prior to the international sanctions, imposed in 2003, before giving consent to any reduction in production. The decision taken in Vienna is not, however, expected to lead to a reduction in Iranian oil production. Iran could, therefore, pursue its goals of increased production in its domestic oil market since other countries, especially Nigeria and Venezuela, are witnessing a continuous decline in their production levels.
The first Iranian reactions are positive
The Iranian authorities have welcomed the agreement. Tehran ''will not cut'' its oil production, reiterated Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh on the eve of the formal meeting. Concerning Tehran, at this point, are, above all, the decisions that the Republican President of the United States could take following the election of Donald Trump on November 8, regarding the nuclear agreement. Specifically, the appointments of Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor and Mike Pompeo as Head of the CIA, both opposed to the agreement reached in Vienna by France, Great Britain, Russia, China, the United States and Germany (P5+1) in July 2015, could call into question the lifting of the international sanctions against Iran. For this reason, the outgoing director of the CIA, John Brennan, warned President-Elect Donald Trump that revoking the agreement with Tehran would be ''disastrous'' and ''the height of folly''. Moscow, in particular, could mediate with the aim of promoting the full implementation of the agreement, with the goal of reaching a shared solution with Washington on the Syrian crisis. The possibility of the United States taking a step back from the Vienna Agreement has provoked strong reactions in Iran. In particular, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has heavily criticized the new package of sanctions approved by the U.S. Congress against Iran on November 15. ''There are no differences between the imposition of a new ban or the continuation of a previous one. The latter is an explicit denial of what has been agreed with the Americans'', declared Khamenei. The Supreme Leader added that, in other words, the new measures are a breach of the nuclear deal.
New certainty for the global market
Iran has fully re-entered the global market as a result of the Vienna Agreement and the rapprochement between the Obama administration and the moderate presidency of Hassan Rouhani. A possible new tension between the two countries is already resulting in an outcry by the Iranian ultra-conservatives who could achieve a good result in the presidential elections of March 2017, bringing the country towards a confrontation with the international community, as in the era of the former president, Mahmud Ahmadinejad. So far, however, France, Italy and Germany do appear to have questioned the intention to bring their bilateral relations with Tehran to the center of their foreign policy. The resolution of the United Nations Security Council that acknowledges Iran’s right to enrich its uranium for civilian purposes is expected to ensure the sealing of the Vienna Agreement. Iran was, therefore, the key country of the Fiera di Roma in November. Between November 22 and 26, 2016, 11 preliminary agreements were signed, amounting to hundreds of millions of Euros, according to data provided by the consultant for the internationalization of the Iran International Exhibition, Ashgar Firouzabadi. 20,000 tons of zinc were then sold to Iranian companies. Also of significant economic impact was ''the agreement allowing the elimination of Abu Dhabi’s intermediation in the aluminum trade between Italy and Iran'', added Firouzabadi, resulting in cost savings for Italian companies. The OPEC agreement to reduce oil production could result in a long-term increase in oil prices, one of the main goals of the producing countries. It should not, however, lead to a reduction in domestic oil production for Iran. The country is yet to face a possible change of route in foreign policy following the Republican victory in the U.S. presidential elections. So far, this possibility has not curbed trade agreements or foreign investments, mainly European, in the country.