Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are vying to gain leadership of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with all three countries putting forward nominees for the next term as secretary-general of the energy body.
OPEC members gathered in Vienna on Monday to interview nominees, with Ecuador, the smallest member of the energy bloc, making up the fourth nominee in the running to replace Libya’s Abdalla el-Badri.
While the position as secretary-general’s main role is to coordinate emergency meeting in times of crisis, the role is also political in nature, with the big decisions made by oil representatives from the 12 individual members.
Those nominated for the position, which is for a maximum of two three-year terms, are Saudi Arabia’s former OPEC governor, Majid Al Moneef, former Iranian oil minister Gholamhossein Nozari, former Iraqi oil minister Thamir Ghadhban and Ecuadorian oil minister Wilson Pastor.
OPEC has often struggled to agree on a secretary-general in the past and the task is complicated by Western sanctions on Iran heightening political tensions within the group.
“It will be hard for the committee to recommend a candidate,” an OPEC delegate told Reuters. “In my opinion the Saudi candidate is the most qualified, but Iran would never be OK with this.”
OPEC’s 12 members include Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
A final decision on the winning candidate will be made on December 12 at OPEC next meeting.