Iran's Ahmadinejad to head next OPEC meeting

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, May 18 -- Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attend the next meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries set for June 8 in Vienna, according to Iranian media.

"Considering that the president is the oil ministry's caretaker, Ahmadinejad will attend the upcoming OPEC meeting," Mohammad Reza Mirtajeddini, a senior government official, told the semi-official Fars news agency.

“The news that Ahmedinejad is coming to OPEC is likely to fill the US with dread as gasoline approaches $4/gal," said IHS Energy senior analyst Samuel Ciszuk.

"He might just want to partake in general anti-US and anti-Western rhetoric and realize that trying to block any added OPEC volumes for instance would have a price impact," said Cizuk.

"He might raise pretty much any issue, just to get the limelight and create some form of price reaction—upwards, one has to assume," Ciszuk said, adding that, "Saudi Arabia is likely to see Ahmadinejad's presence as a direct challenge."

Iran is in the midst of a dispute with the West over its nuclear work. It also is often OPEC's leading advocate of higher prices, in contrast to Saudi Arabia which traditionally urges a more moderate pricing stance.

Iran, the second-largest crude producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia, currently holds the group’s presidency and the OPEC president traditionally delivers a speech to kick off the occasion.

Ahmadinejad’s decision to appoint himself oil minister means that he will deliver the presidency’s formal speech to the OPEC ministers when they convene in Vienna on June 8.

Earlier this week, Ahmadinejad said he would temporarily oversee the country’s oil portfolio following his earlier dismissal of Oil Minister Masoud Mir-Kazemi (OGJ Online May 16, 2011).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.



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