Europe

Iran dims hopes for deal on output freeze this week

  • Khalid Al-Falih Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, center, arrives for a group photo prior to the opening of the 15th International Energy Forum Ministerial meeting in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. At meetings in Algeria this week, energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries are discussing whether to freeze production levels to boost global oil prices. (AP Photo/ Sidali Djarboub)

    Khalid Al-Falih Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, center, arrives for a group photo prior to the opening of the 15th International Energy Forum Ministerial meeting in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. At meetings in Algeria this week, energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries are discussing whether to freeze production levels to boost global oil prices. (AP Photo/ Sidali Djarboub)  (The Associated Press)

  • Energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries attend the opening session of the15th International Energy Forum Ministerial meeting in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. At meetings in Algeria this week, energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries are discussing whether to freeze production levels to boost global oil prices. (AP Photo/ Sidali Djarboub)

    Energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries attend the opening session of the15th International Energy Forum Ministerial meeting in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. At meetings in Algeria this week, energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries are discussing whether to freeze production levels to boost global oil prices. (AP Photo/ Sidali Djarboub)  (The Associated Press)

  • Energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries attend the opening session of the15th International Energy Forum Ministerial meeting in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. At meetings in Algeria this week, energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries are discussing whether to freeze production levels to boost global oil prices. (AP Photo/ Sidali Djarboub)

    Energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries attend the opening session of the15th International Energy Forum Ministerial meeting in Algiers, Algeria, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. At meetings in Algeria this week, energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries are discussing whether to freeze production levels to boost global oil prices. (AP Photo/ Sidali Djarboub)  (The Associated Press)

Iran is playing down hopes of a deal among oil-exporting countries meeting in Algeria this week to limit production and boost energy prices.

The comments Tuesday by Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh sent oil prices dropping further. The U.S. contract for crude oil was down 95 cents, or about 2 percent, at $44.98 a barrel, having traded roughly flat earlier in the day.

Speaking in Algiers, Zanganeh said an informal OPEC gathering due Wednesday is "just a consultation meeting ... If there is a decision, it should be taken at the next (OPEC) meeting in Vienna in November."

Despite shrinking hopes for a deal on freezing output levels, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal urged participants to overcome their differences to reach a "balanced price."