Venezuela's oil minister, Ali Rodriguez, will take over as OPEC's new secretary general from January next year, the group announced Sunday. Rodriguez, currently the OPEC president, would succeed secretary general Rilwanu Lukman on January 1, Qatar oil minister Abdullah al-Attiyah told journalists on the sidelines of OPEC talks.
Lukman, a Nigerian official, retires at the end of the year after five years at the helm. The speed of the appointment to a post that had been contested up to the last moment by hopefuls from Iran, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia, left even Venezuela's officials surprised. ”It was a surpise that it was so quick," said Venezuelan deputy minister of energy and mines, Edgard Rodriguez.
It confirmed a new relationship between OPEC and Venezuela, which had been seen as a quota-buster until it hosted an OPEC summit in Caracas in September to celebrate the body's 40th anniversary. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez would now have to appoint a new oil minister, said the Venezuelan official.
Chavez has made OPEC a key plank of his overseas diplomacy. The Venezuelan leader drew the ire of the United States when he broke Iraq's international isolation and paid a visit to President Saddam Hussein in August. The visit was part of a trip designed to drum up support for the September 27-28 summit of the 11-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Seen as a champion of the millions of Venezuelans who live in acute poverty, Chavez has frequently taken up the cause of impoverished and isolated countries, including those such as Cuba, Libya and Iraq, seen as pariahs by the United States.
Algeria would take the post of OPEC president after it had been vacated by Rodriguez, said a Venezuelan official. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse
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