"We have started to receive the Kirkuk oil in Iran. I hope to be able to continue it as the program we have agreed to with the Oil Ministry of Iraq," Bijan Namdar Zanganeh was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"But for continuation of this swap we need to increase the level of this swap; we need to build a pipeline between Kirkuk and Iran," emphasized Zanganeh. "Currently it's at 30,000 bpd; it could be increased to over 300,000."
Meanwhile, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi underlined that the US sanctions will have no effect on the Tehran-Baghdad oil swap agreement.
"We have just started transferring a small amount of oil to Iran's refineries, but this is not the basis for the exchange," the Iraqi oil minister said.
According to the swap deal, Iran receives 30,000 to 60,000 bpd of oil from Kirkuk oilfields in northern Iraq to an Iranian refinery across the border via tanker trucks, in exchange for oil for southern Iraq.
Decreasing costs of transporting oil to refineries in western and northern Iran and receiving transit rights are among the advantages of implementing the swap plan.
Talking on the recent decision made by OPEC, Zanganeh said Friday's deal would effectively release another 500,000 bpd of crude onto the market.
He said the impact would be lower because Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are already producing close to their allocations under the production cut agreement despite being the only members with significant spare capacity.
"There is no oil. Each year demand goes up by 1.5 million (bpd) and who has more oil? Iran’s exit from the oil market will make oil prices jump," said Zanganeh.
If producers were to pump above their quotas and violate the deal, Zanganeh said collective exports would be limited because of surging summer demand in the Middle East requiring more barrels for domestic consumption at power plants in the region.
He also said President Trump was wrong to target Iran's oil as part of the sanctions due to come into force in November against the Islamic Republic.
“Trump has made two mistakes," said Zanganeh. "One is that he thinks the regime will change in Iran within months. And the second is that he has been told there is a huge spare capacity in the world, and he can push Iran out of the market. He will soon realize that he is mistaken."
The US president tweeted within an hour of OPEC announcing its deal: "Hope OPEC will increase output substantially. Need to keep prices down!"
Zanganeh said OPEC should not be in the business of caving in to US demands, and blamed the sanctions for the recent price rise.
"Generally, my point was that OPEC shouldn't give a positive signal to the US and it didn't," he said. "[Trump] wants to say that he is against high prices, but he wants to say high fuel prices are not his fault. He wants to say it is OPEC’s fault."
The minister acknowledged that US sanctions, which snap back on November 5, were already being felt in Iran. Shipping companies, banks and insurers were already shying away from doing business with Tehran, forcing crude buyers to start looking elsewhere for supplies, he added.
Iran's crude and condensate exports stood at 2.8 mbd, Zanganeh said. When US sanctions were previously imposed, from 2012 until early 2016, Iran's crude exports had halved to about one mbd.