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Gulf States Said To Back Lukman’s Bid To Head OPEC

November 3, 1994

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Four Arab states in the Persian Gulf are backing a former Nigerian oil minister to become OPEC secretary general, the newspaper Emirates News reported Wednesday.

Nigeria proposed its former minister, Rilwanu Lukman, for the post after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting States failed to agree on a replacement for Indonesia’s Subroto when his term expired in June.

The cartel’s 12 member states have been split over two candidates: Alirio Parra of Venezuela and Hossein Kazempour Ardebeli of Iran.

Nigeria’s junior oil minister, Al Haji Umaru Baba, was quoted in the English-language paper as saying Gulf leaders had written letters supporting Lukman to Nigerian President Sani Abacha.

The four Gulf Arab states that belong to OPEC are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Nigerian officials have been visiting OPEC members to lobby on Lukman’s behalf. Oil Minister Don Etiebet has visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Baba on Wednesday wound up a visit to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Asked if his trip was successful, Baba told the English-language paper: ″Of course it was.

″I am very satisfied with its results. Gulf states hold Lukman in high respect. They know him very well and they know his good credentials and capabilities.″

Baba is expected to visit Algeria and Libya before the decisive OPEC meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 21.

At the Bali meeting, OPEC members will also consider the cartel’s production ceiling for the first quarter of 1995. Baba said Nigeria favored a rollover of the current output of 24.52 million barrels per day. This, he said, would boost oil prices when the winter season demand peaks to over 26 million barrels per day.

In his view, maintaining the production level could boost prices by more than $2 a barrel. OPEC oil is currently selling for about $16 a barrel, or $5 below the cartel’s target price.

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