Iran President to attend next OPEC meeting

Ahmadinejad dismissed Oil Minister as part of a Cabinet restructuring plan.

Last Updated: May 18, 2011, 23:36 PM IST

Tehran: Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad will participate in the upcoming OPEC meeting in
Vienna in his capacity as the country`s caretaker oil
minister, state media reported on Wednesday.

Ahmadinejad dismissed Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi
last week as part of a Cabinet restructuring plan under which
the government is required to merge eight ministries into
four.

The move puts him temporarily at the helm of the
country`s most vital sector. Iran also holds the Organization
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries` rotating presidency this
year.

Vice President Mohammad Reza Mirtajeddini said that
unless Ahmadinejad names a caretaker for the oil ministry`s
top job ahead of 12-nation bloc`s June 8 meeting, he will lead
Iran`s delegation to OPEC.

"The President will participate in the meeting,"
Mirtajeddini was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news
agency after a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. "Whoever is the
caretaker oil minister will attend this (OPEC) meeting."

Iran OPEC`s second largest oil exporter and the
world`s fourth largest crude oil producer is typically seen as
a price hawk. The country relies on oil exports for about 80
percent of its public revenues and, despite crude`s price
rally over the past couple of months, has said there is no
need to adjust OPEC members` output quotas to cool the market.

The producer group has left its output quotas
unchanged for over two years. Many of its top producers,
including Iran and kingpin Saudi Arabia, have said the market
remains oversupplied and that the run-up in crude prices is
linked more to market fears following the disruption in Libyan
oil output than supply-demand fundamentals. OPEC supplies
about 35 percent of the world`s oil.

Ahmadinejad, who is butting heads with the country`s
supreme leader since dismissing his intelligence minister
without consulting with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has in the
past shown great interest in controlling the oil ministry.

PTI