Sun, Oct 24, 2010 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Iran To Hold OPEC Presidency for First Time in 36 Years
For the first time in 36 years, Iran will assume the presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It will hold the presidency for one year starting January 1, 2011. Iran’s Oil Minister Mas’ud Mir-Kazemi was unanimously elected as president at a meeting of the 12-member OPEC group in Vienna last Thursday. Iran is the world’s second largest petroleum producer after Saudi Arabia.
In an interview to the conservative daily Iran, Iran’s OPEC representative Mohammad-Ali Khatibi said this week that the election of Iran as the organization’s president after 36 years was proof of Iran’s good relations with its neighbors and other OPEC members. He added that being the president of OPEC will give Iran an international status which it can use to express its views and policy (Iran, October 16). In an interview to the economic daily Donya-ye Eqtesad (“World of Economy”), Khatibi commented on the challenges facing Iran in the coming year as president of OPEC. It was his assessment that the global economic instability may affect the demand for oil, and that Iran must closely follow the economic situation and the fluctuations on the oil market to keep oil prices from decreasing. In addition, Iran will need to monitor the continuing changes in the value of the dollar and the euro and their impact on the global oil market.
In an interview given to Donya-ye Eqtesad, the major oil commentator Behrouz Beyk Alizadeh discussed the implications of Iran’s election as president of OPEC. He noted that it was a good opportunity for Iran to enjoy an elevated status on the international scene and increase its influence on the oil market, even though it will be unable to impose its views concerning global oil policy on other OPEC members. When asked about the possible implications of Iran’s becoming the new president of the organization on oil prices, Alizadeh estimated that unless current conditions on the global oil market change dramatically, next year’s oil prices will remain in the 70-80 dollars per barrel range. (Donya-ye Eqtesad, October 17)
In an interview to the daily Siasat-e Rooz, Majles Energy Committee member Hossein Nejabat defined Iran’s election as OPEC president as a major diplomatic victory, saying that Iran must use that victory to return oil to its original owners and so prevent it from being used by the West to exert pressure on Iran. If Iran adopts the right policy and cooperates with the organization members, Nejabat said, it can realize its policy and views during its presidency. Hassan Ghafouri-Fard, also a member of the Energy Committee, noted that Iran must act to increase the unity of OPEC’s member countries and strengthen that organization’s role in setting oil prices and managing production to defend the oil producers’ interests and improve their status (Siasat-e Rooz, October 17).
The website Iranian Diplomacy also addressed the implications of Iran’s election, saying that it may increase its influence on the direction of the global oil market. As Western countries constantly increase their pressure on Iran and attempt to isolate it, the website says, Iran’s election as the president of OPEC may increase its involvement in regional and international affairs. (Diplomasi-ye Irani, October 16)