Oil prices could rise as high as $150 per barrel because of the European Union ban on imports of Iranian crude, the country's deputy oil minister was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Sunday.
Although a precise prediction cannot be made on oil prices, it seems we will witness a $120 to $150 oil price per barrel in future, said Deputy Oil Ministry Ahmad Qalebani.
Benchmark Brent crude prices rose to about $111.50 a barrel on Friday on expectations Iran's parliament will vote to halt exports to the EU as early as next week in retaliation for its plans to stop all Iranian crude imports by July.
Escalating tensions between Iran and Western allies over Tehran's nuclear program, including Iranian threats to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, have helped lift Brent crude prices by about $8 a barrel since mid-December.
But analysts say the world is likely to have more oil this summer thanks to additional output from Saudi Arabi, Iraq, and Libya that will more than make up for any lost from Iran after the EU's ban is imposed on July 1 -- and this is likely to be reflected in oil prices.
Iran's parliament is due to debate a bill this week that would cut off oil supplies to the EU in a matter of days, in response to a decision on Jan. 23 by the 27 EU member states to stop importing crude from Iran as of July.
The EU not only banned imports of oil from Iran but also imposed a number of other economic sanctions, joining the United States in a new round of measures aimed at hindering Tehran's nuclear-development program.
(Writing by Ramin Mostafavi; editing by Sophie Walker and Daniel Fineren)