Venezuelan To Replace Rodriguez as OPEC Chief

OPEC has agreed that another Venezuelan will take over as its secretary-general when Ali Rodriguez steps down later this month. "Everyone agreed that it's a good idea to have a Venezuelan finish the term" started by Rodriguez, the London-based International Oil Daily quoting an Gulf OPEC source as saying. Gulf countries who make up the bulk of the cartel's membership made the decision during Rodriguez's recent visit to the region.

Rodriguez will step down at the next OPEC meeting on June 26 in Vienna because Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has appointed him chairman of PDVSA. The main Gulf member states are hoping that "by keeping a Venezuelan in charge of the day to day affairs of the cartel, the South American nation will remain a willing participant in OPEC production accord."

Reports say Chavez has fielded his energy and mining minister, Alvaro Silva Calderon, to succeed to Rodriguez. But some members of the cartel "objected on the ground that Calderon does not speak good English." Under OPEC rules, the vote for a secretary general must be unanimous among its 11 member states.