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OPEC Considers Oil Output, Iran-Saudi Rivalry

That price appears to be in the comfort zone of most OPEC member nations, and comments ahead of the meeting by some oil ministers suggest that the OPEC meeting might settle for the status quo in production Wednesday, while urging members to stop exceeding their individual output quotas.

"As long as there is demand for crude oil, there is no need to do anything," United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Mohamed bin Dhaen Al Hamli told reporters on Tuesday, while Iranian oil minister Rostam Ghasemi described the status quo as "good right now."

"There is no expectation of any sort of action that would restrain supply coming out of the Vienna gathering," said John Kingston, an analyst at energy and metals information provider Platts. Jason Schenker of Prestige Economics noted that prices are at levels "OPEC ministers have described as 'fair,' 'sustainable,' 'reasonable,' etc."

The bigger problem may be whom to settle on for the post of OPEC secretary-general, the public face of the organization and a symbol of the cohesion the group likes to project despite persistent internal rivalries.

It will be the third time this year that the ministers try to find a successor to Abdullah Al-Badry. The affable yet authoritative Libyan has held the post for five years to make him one of OPEC's longest serving secretary generals â¿¿ and he may be extended for another year as a way of easing tense jockeying among other members for the post.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's top producer and de-facto decision maker, has nominated Majid El-Muneef, a senior petroleum expert and a member OPEC's governing board. For Iran, it's former oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari, while Iraq has proposed ex oil minister Thamir Ghadban.

Though qualified, all carry baggage.

A choice between Iran and the Saudis would further polarize the organization. Iraq, which is vying to outproduce the Saudis in the next decade, also is considered by some members to have its own agenda instead of wanting to serve OPEC.

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