Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are seeking the top post of the new OPEC Secretary General which will be vacant by the end of 2012. However, OPEC has delayed a meeting of officials to help select its new secretary general as such delicate talks could reignite rivalry for influence amongst the contenders.
A panel of officials was initially planned to convene at the Vienna headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries during August, but the meeting is now more likely to take place in October. OPEC has often struggled to agree on a secretary general and the task of appointing a successor to the outgoing Abdullah al-Badri comes as Western sanctions on Iran have heightened political tensions within the 12-member group.
Without a decision on the post before December, OPEC could start 2013 without a permanent figurehead, potentially adding to its difficulties in managing the oil market should predictions of a slowdown in global oil demand prove to be correct.
Four of OPEC's 12 members have put forward potential successors to Badri, a Libyan whose term finishes at the end of 2012. Saudi Arabia nominated its OPEC governor, Majid Al-Moneef, for the role followed by Iraq, which proposed Thamir Ghadhban, energy adviser to Iraq's prime minister while Iran nominated a former oil minister, Gholam Hossein Nozari.
OPEC officials have also raised the possibility of Badri being asked to remain in the post beyond the end of his term if a successor cannot be chosen. That would mean OPEC waiving its own rule that the secretary general serve no more than two three-year terms