Iraq nominates Ghadhban to head OPEC

Iraq nominated former Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban to the post of OPEC secretary-general, competing against a candidate from the organization’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia.

The Iraqi Cabinet approved naming Ghadhban, the 67-year-old current top adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, as head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to an emailed statement. He was oil minister in 2004 and 2005, after the US-led invasion ousted the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Iraq is the third-largest producer in OPEC, supplier of about 40 per cent of the world’s oil, after Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iraq is pumping more than three million barrels a day, its highest since Hussein seized power in 1979, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Al Luaibi said on Monday.

The secretary-general often helps members reach consensus on output policy and represents the group in dealings with governments and other international organizations.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, nominated Majid Al Moneef, its OPEC governor, as head of the producer group, a person with knowledge of the matter said February 1.

OPEC’s current Secretary-General, Abdullah Al Badri of Libya, will complete his second three-year term at the end of this year, after first taking over on January 1, 2007.

Al Badri’s selection as secretary-general in 2007 ended a three-year deadlock over a permanent appointment for the position. The one-time chairman of Libya’s National Oil Co. was then picked over rival candidates from Iran and Kuwait.