Saudi Arabia and Iran don't like one another in actual life — so what occurs at OPEC conferences?


Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zangeneh (bottom L) speaks to journalists at the 168th Ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, on December 4, 2015. 

JOE KLAMAR | AFP | Getty Images

Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zangeneh (bottom L) speaks to journalists at the 168th Ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, on December 4, 2015. 

It’s no secret that Iran and Saudi Arabia are not the best of friends on the global geopolitical stage, but the arch-rivals have to share a space when the influential oil producing group OPEC meets Thursday.

CNBC spoke to oil market experts to get their take on how and whether Saudi Arabia and Iran manage to keep OPEC talks strictly professional when they clash so frequently in the real world and over oil.

The biggest bone of contention right now between fellow OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Iran are U.S. sanctions on the latter which have damaged its oil industry.

Understandably, Iran is not too happy with Saudi Arabia’s contention that it can easily replace Iran’s lost oil supply. As such, OPEC meetings can be tense affairs for Saudi and Iranian delegates.

“I have heard that there has been considerable tension in recent meetings, and that the Iranian OPEC governor has not minced words,” Helima Croft, head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital, told CNBC Wednesday.

“And the sheer fact that Saudi Arabia surged production to help back out Iranian barrels means that geopolitics has played a role in production policy,” she added.



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