Time for OPEC X Factor

Published October 23rd, 2012 - 08:32 GMT
OPEC is choosing its new boss in a meeting in Vienna
OPEC is choosing its new boss in a meeting in Vienna

Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) governors gather in Vienna to select a new secretary-general for the first time in six years, with four countries vying for the position.

The governors started their two-day meeting at Opec's headquarters and will interview nominees from Iran and Iraq as well as the group's biggest and smallest exporters, Saudi Arabia and Ecuador. The governors will recommend a successor to Libya's Abdalla El Badri, who completes a second, three-year term at the end of this year. A final decision will be taken by ministers in December.

"The secretary-general does play an important role, with implications beyond the oil markets," Ehsan Ul Haq, senior market consultant at KBC Energy Economics, a unit of KBC Advanced Technology, said by phone from Walton-on-Thames, England on October 19. Iran and Libya The producer group controlling 40 per cent of global oil supply has boosted output in the past two years as fighting in Libya and sanctions on Iran disrupted exports from those two members, keeping prices volatile.

The secretary-general can coordinate emergency meetings when needed and the post holds political gravitas within Opec even though policy decisions are made by oil ministers from the 12-member states.

Opec supply quotas will be discussed by ministers on December 12, and are not for debate. Opec has previously had one secretary-general from each of the four nominee countries; Ecuador in 1979-1981 and the others in the 1960s. This time, Saudi Arabia nominated its former Opec governor, Majid Al Moneef, while Iran selected Gholamhossein Nozari, a former oil minister. Iraqis backing Thamir Ghadhban, another former oil minister.

© Muscat Media Group

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