June 5, 2011 / 11:15 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Iran yet to decide who heads OPEC delegation -Fars

* Two days left to announce delegation head -Khatibi

* Confusion after Ahmadinejad sacked oil minister

* Khatibi says not yet had request to up output

(Adds background, quote on possible output hike)

TEHRAN, June 5 (Reuters) - Iran has yet to decide who will head its delegation at this week’s meeting of OPEC oil producers, its OPEC governor was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Fars news agency.

OPEC meets on Wednesday and may consider raising output to dampen prices but ahead of the meeting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sacked his oil minister, leaving a question mark over who would represent the group’s second-largest producer nation.

Iran’s envoy to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, told the semi-official Fars agency the decision had yet to be finalised.

“Because I was travelling abroad I do not have any information about the announcement of the new caretaker of the Oil Ministry,” Khatibi told Fars.

“In any case, Iran has a maximum of two days to announce its representative at the next OPEC meeting who would also head the meeting.”

The head of parliament’s energy committee said the appointment of someone with no oil experience to the job was the “worst choice” and could harm Iran’s energy industry. [nLDE7520P6]

Ahmadinejad sacked Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi last month — a move seen as a power grab by his rivals but which he said was merely part of a wider government restructuring.

Under intense criticism, Ahmadinejad relinquished the position of caretaker oil minister himself on Friday and appointed Mohammad Aliabadi, the head of Iran’s Olympic Committee and a close ally.

It has yet to be officially confirmed that Aliabadi would head the Iranian delegation at the Vienna meeting.

The political turmoil comes as Iran holds the rotating presidency of OPEC and as persistently high oil prices threaten to slow a faltering economic recovery, prompting consumer nations to demand OPEC take action.

Gulf sources said last week that OPEC would discuss an increase of up to 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), nearly equal to the production cut off in Libya, but that a rise of 1 million bpd would be the most likely outcome. [ID:nL3E7H20QC]

Khatibi told Fars: “We have not so far had any requests to increase production at the upcoming summit.”

An OPEC advisory panel, which looks at market data but does not decide policy, agreed on Friday that the group should raise output to meet higher second-half oil demand. [ID:nLDE7521UP] (Reporting by Mitra Amiri; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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