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No certainty on OPEC's next move

June 7, 2011 at 6:23 AM   |   Comments

TEHRAN, June 7 (UPI) -- The caretaker of the Iranian Oil Ministry will represent the Islamic republic at the next regular OPEC meeting in Vienna, the government announced.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad named Mohammed Aliabadi the caretaker oil minister. Tehran is planning to merge several ministries including energy and oil.

Iranian lawmakers objected to a move by Ahmadinejad to take the caretaker role amid internal divisions in Tehran. The Oil Ministry's Petroenergy Information Network reports Aliabadi would represent Iran at the Wednesday meeting.

Energy prices are hovering near highs not seen since the onset of the global economic meltdown in 2008. OPEC in December 2008 clamped down on production after oil lost nearly $100 per barrel.

The International Energy Agency in a May report saw an "urgent" need for OPEC to increase production as high energy prices threatened to drag on economic recovery in major world markets.

Michael Wittner, a market researcher at banking giant Societe Generale, said there were hints that OPEC could raise production quotas.

"Saudi Arabia and other key members of OPEC, with the usual exceptions of price hawks Iran and Venezuela, appear to be leaning toward a quota increase because they are concerned about the negative impact of high prices on (gross domestic product) growth and, ultimately, on oil demand growth," he was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying.

Wittner cautioned, however, that his assessment wasn't a "slam dunk."

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