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Saudi Arabia’s Al-Moneef Said to Drop Race for OPEC Sec-Gen

Majid al-Moneef withdrew his candidacy for the post of OPEC secretary-general after he was promoted within Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Economic Council, a Persian Gulf official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Al-Moneef, who formerly served as Saudi Arabia’s governor to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and as a senior economic adviser to Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, had been vying for the producer group’s top administrative position against candidates from Iran and Iraq. He dropped out of the contest today, said the person, who declined to be identified because the official is not authorized to speak to the media. The official didn’t say whether Saudi Arabia would propose another candidate.

Two officials at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources declined to comment on the matter when contacted today by telephone. A person who answered the phone at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna said that Angela Agoawike, head of the public relations and information department, wasn’t available for comment, when asked by Bloomberg today.

King Abdullah promoted Al-Moneef today to be secretary-general of the Riyadh-based Supreme Economic Council, which is headed by the king and sets and oversees national economic policies and coordinates among government entities. Its members include the ministers of finance, petroleum and foreign affairs, and Al-Moneef has served on its advisory board since 1999.

Saudi Production

OPEC’s 12 members, which together supply about 40 percent of the world’s oil, failed to agree on the appointment of a new secretary-general when they last met on Dec. 12 in Vienna, opting instead to keep Libya’s Abdalla El-Badri in the role for an additional year. Saudi Arabia is by far the group’s biggest producer, pumping 9.1 million barrels a day of crude in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The secretary-general is the public face of OPEC and is involved in coordinating emergency meetings when deemed necessary. Saudi Arabia had nominated al-Moneef for the post, while Iran selected Gholamhossein Nozari, a former oil minister, and Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, proposed Thamir Ghadhban, also a former oil minister.

OPEC’s members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. It meets next on May 31.

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