Qassemi said he's heard suggestions that Saudi Arabia may pull out of the race for the secretary-general post at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Former Libyan Oil Minister Abdalla Salem el-Badri serves as OPEC secretary-general.
"Saudi Arabia's firm decision to retreat its candidacy for the post of OPEC secretary-general has not yet been announced, but it seems that Iran and Iraq are stronger candidates for the post than Saudi Arabia," Qassemi was quoted by the semiofficial Fars News Agency as saying.
Iranian and Iraqi officials led the cartel during the first two secretarial terms in 1961 and 1964, respectively. Both countries have nominated former oil ministers for the job.
Fars reports that Iran aims to keep oil prices as high as the market will bear, accusing Saudi Arabia of courting Western allies with lower crude oil prices.
Prices for the Brent trade classification last week dropped to less than $100 per barrel for the first time since July. The OPEC basket price, a representation of the cartel's export grades, was less than $100 as well.
OPEC chiefs typically serve a three-year term.
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