Last updated: 14 December, 2011

OPEC picks Iraq to be its president in 2012

OPEC said on Wednesday that its member countries had chosen Iraq to be its president in 2012, taking over from Iran at the head of the cartel.

“The conference elected Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, minister of oil of Iraq and head of its delegation, as president of the conference for one year, with effect from 1 January 2012,” OPEC said in a communique after its latest output meeting.

Iraq, which is excluded from OPEC’s oil output quota system because of the country’s unrest, is looking to dramatically ramp up production, with oil sales accounting for the vast majority of its government revenues.

Iraq’s exclusion from the quotas should not pose a problem during its role as president, since OPEC on Wednesday decided to apply a total production ceiling rather than ask its members to comply with individual targets.

The title of president is seen as an honorary rather than a strategic role.

OPEC, whose dozen members together pump about one third of the world’s oil supply, agreed on Wednesday to maintain current oil production of 30 million barrels per day, citing an uncertain outlook for world energy demand.

The International Energy Agency, which represents consumers, said Tuesday that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries produced 30.68 mbpd last month as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait pumped extra crude because of weak Libya output.

Excluding Iraq, the IEA estimates that the cartel’s other 11 member nations together pumped 27.97 mbpd of oil in November, above the OPEC “official” quota total of 24.84 mbpd.