IEA Confirms Chief Economist Birol Elected Executive Director
PARIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The International Energy Agency (IEA) elected Turkish economist Fatih Birol as executive director, the Paris-based agency confirmed on Friday, a day after it was announced by Turkey.
The current executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, a former Dutch economy minister, took over in September 2011 and will complete her stint at the end of August.
Birol has served as chief economist at the IEA for the last nine years of his 20-year tenure at the West's energy agency, which was founded in response to the first oil shock in 1973-74 and coordinates the release of emergency oil stocks.
Birol, who worked at oil cartel group OPEC before joining the IEA in 1995, has been responsible for its World Energy Outlook, the IEA's flagship annual report, which is closely followed by energy markets.
Analysts said the new appointment could herald a change in the organisation's profile.
"With Fatih the IEA is likely to be more outspoken," said Olivier Jakob, an analyst at Petromatrix in Zug, Switzerland.
Mark Lewis, a senior analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Paris noted that Birol had "great technical expertise and experience".
The IEA, which has 29 member states, said in a statement on Friday the appointment marked one of the rare occasions that the head of the agency had been selected from within its ranks.
Usually the IEA directors are high-ranking former officials of member states. The IEA elects an executive director, the main public face of the organisation, every four years for a maximum of two terms.
Birol said last December he expected oil prices to rebound to near $100 in coming years, some $40 above current prices, which have been hit by a supply glut and sluggish global growth.
Brent crude prices plunged by more than 60 percent from June, but have attempted a rebound since mid-January, rising by more than a third in the last month to $60.
(Reporting by Michel Rose in Paris and Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans)
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