Saudi official named OPEC’s new head of research

Ayed Al-Qahtani
Ayed Al-Qahtani

Ayed Al-Qahtani

:: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) Board of Governors chose Saudi Arabia’s candidate to be the group’s new head of research, the group said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia’s Ayed Al-Qahtani was up against candidates from three other members of OPEC — Qatar, Iraq and Libya — for the post, which is OPEC’s second most senior after the secretary-general.

OPEC’s talks about the post come as a dispute between Qatar and two of its Gulf Arab neighbors in OPEC, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has raised the risk that political tension could hinder cooperation in OPEC, which is cutting output for the first time in eight years.

But the backdrop of tension between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) OPEC members did not affect the meeting on Tuesday. Al-Qahtani was seen as the most likely candidate given his experience, two sources said before the meeting.

“This is a GCC issue but for OPEC we carry on,” another source close to OPEC said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing militant groups.

Al-Qahtani works at the Saudi Energy Ministry and is a member of the Saudi OPEC delegation. He has also worked for state oil company Saudi Aramco, where he was in charge of its global economic and energy outlooks and scenarios.

The OPEC governors, in their 149th Extraordinary Meeting at the group’s Vienna headquarters on Tuesday, also appointed Abderrezak Benyoucef of Algeria as the new head of the Energy Studies Department, and Behrooz Baikalizadeh of Iran as the new head of the Petroleum Studies Department.

They do not make decisions about production policy, which is set by the oil ministers. The Vienna-based OPEC Secretariat currently has 133 staff, comprising 42 nationalities.

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