Two Former OPEC Officials Named as Saudi King’s Advisers

Saudi Arabia appointed two of its former OPEC officials as oil experts to a council that advises the king on energy and economic matters, including Majid al-Moneef, a contender for the post of OPEC Secretary General.

Al-Moneef was reappointed to the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy, which is part of King Abdullah’s Shoura Council, for another four years, his third term, according to a royal decree issued today and carried by Saudi Press Agency.

He retired last year as senior economic adviser to the country’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi. He was also formerly the nation’s OPEC Governor and is the kingdom’s nominee to replace OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri, who was given an extra year in that post after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was last month unable to pick a successor.

Saudi Arabia cut crude production to the lowest in 19 months in December, a Gulf official with knowledge of the nation’s policy said yesterday, on condition of anonymity. The world’s largest crude exporter has previously stated it would be content with Brent crude at $100 a barrel, a level that prices have stayed above since July. The kingdom needs to keep prices high enough to fund social spending plans without incurring the wrath of consuming nations for hurting the global economy.

Ahmed al-Ghamdi was appointed to the same committee in the Shoura Council for first time, according to today’s decree. Al-Ghamdi became an adviser to al-Naimi last year after stepping down as the kingdom’s National Representative to OPEC, a post one rung lower than OPEC Governor.

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Al-Ghamdi is one of the Saudi oil minister’s current closest advisers along with Ibrahim al-Mohanna, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Prince Faisal bin Turki, Abdulrahman Abdulkareem, Khalid Abuleif and Abed al-Saadoun.

OPEC, which meets next on May 31, hasn’t yet announced how or when it will select a replacement to Libya’s El-Badri as OPEC Secretary-General. Al-Moneef was vying for the post against two former oil ministers; Iran’s Gholamhossein Nozari and Iraq’s Thamir Ghadhban.

Founded in 1960, OPEC has previously had one secretary-general from each of the three nominee countries in the 1960s. Each member state appoints a governor and a national representative to OPEC.

An OPEC Governor sits on the board of the 12-nation organization, helping control its budget and objectives while a national representative’s duties include analyzing the oil market. The secretary-general is the public face of OPEC and is involved in coordinating emergency meetings when deemed necessary.

OPEC’s 12 members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

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