VIENNA, DEC. 13 -- Iran, worried that a proposed OPEC compromise deal would fail to keep world oil prices from falling, today blocked final approval of a package to extend the organization's current price and production levels, delegates said.
But Venezuela's energy minister, Arturo Hernandez, and other delegates predicted that Iran on Monday would endorse the proposal before the 13-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Libyan Oil Minister Fawzi Shakshuki said that Iran wanted OPEC to lower its production ceiling to reduce the current surplus of oil on world markets. Hernandez, however, indicated that this proposal was no longer being considered.
Iranian Oil Minister Qolam Reza Aqazadeh-Khol was expected to return to Iran early Monday to consult with his government, conference sources said.
"He personally is very supportive" of the package, a high-ranking delegate said.
U.S. oil industry analysts have said that the proposed compromise would be insufficient to halt the fall of oil prices and that a production cut was needed to stabilize prices.
Gabon's oil minister, Etienne Guy Mouvagha-Tchioba, said some members wanted to cut the ceiling by about 800,000 barrels a day.
OPEC's current production ceiling is about 15 million barrels a day for all members except Iraq, which has refused to sign any OPEC agreement since August 1986 because Baghdad's production levels have been set lower than those of Iran, its enemy in the Persian Gulf war.
The suggested production cut of about 800,000 barrels a day would improve OPEC's chances of stabilizing prices early next year, one U.S. analyst said.