Ahmadinejad's Iran Oil Min Nominee to Get Support

DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones), Aug. 20, 2009

Iran's oil industry will support President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nomination for oil minister if approved by parliament, Iran's governor for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Thursday.

"The whole industry will respect it," Mohammad Ali Khatibi told Zawya Dow Jones in a telephone interview.

President Ahmadinejad has nominated Massoud Mir-Kazemi, previously deputy commerce minister, as the country's oil minister, according to ISNA news agency.

Analysts have given the prospect of Mir-Kazemi's appointment a cool reception amid concern that replacing the incumbent Gholam Hossein Nozari could unsettle the country's industry just as it faces tougher sanctions from the West.

"Choosing this guy to head the oil ministry when this happens would be a very bad idea," said Mostafa Al Ani, senior analyst at Dubai-based think-tank Gulf Research Center.

New sanctions targeting the exporting of oil products to Iran, which is already suffering from domestic supply shortages, will be enforced on Sept. 15. Iran, the second-largest oil producer in OPEC, pumped 3.75 million barrels a day in July, according to the latest Dow Jones OPEC-11 Survey.

Ahmadinejad also nominated Mohammad Aliabadi as the country's energy minister and proposed Manouchehr Mottaki to remain as foreign minister. The complete list of nominees for will be put to a parliamentary vote on Aug. 30.

Iran's economy, dependent on oil, has suffered under Ahmadinejad who has faced internal criticism for his failure to turn around inflation and unemployment. Inflation is running at 25% in 2008 and unemployment at 12.5%, although unofficial figures are much higher.

"The need for revenues given the weaker economy will mean that any softening of oil prices would be problematic," said Julia Nanay, Senior Director at PFC Energy.

(Majdoline Hatoum in Dubai contributed to this article.)  

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.