A consensus was developing within OPEC in early November for a decision later in the month to maintain its existing production quota into 1995, probably for six months. However, there was continued uncertainty over the long-delayed choice of a new secretary general for the organisation.

In the run-up to the 21 November OPEC meeting in Bali, Indonesia, member countries were encouraged by firmer oil prices and predictions of high demand in the winter and rising world requirements in 1995. Some countries, including Kuwait, are looking ahead to a possible price of $20 a barrel.

OPEC output in October is put by market analysts at just above 25 million barrels a day (b/d), about 500,000 b/d more than the organisation’s ceiling and 80,000 b/d more than in September, but the market has been able to absorb the extra supplies.

Most OPEC members are reportedly agreed that the production roll-over should be for at least three months. Some members, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, may want a six-month rollover, according to press reports.

The most contentious issue at Bali may be the selection of a new secretary- general to replace Indonesia’s Subroto whose term ended in June. Libya’s Oil Minister Abdullah al-Badri has filled the post on a temporary basis, but wants to return to government responsibilities. The choice of former Venezuelan oil minister Alirio Para at the Vienna meeting in June was vetoed by Iran, which instead proposed Hossain Kazempour-Ardebili, ambassador in Tokyo and former deputy oil minister. Iran says it has the right to the post after many years of waiting.

In late October, Nigerian Oil Minister Dan Etiebet toured several OPEC countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, to promote the candidacy of former Nigerian oil minister Rilwanu Lukman. Lukman is seen as a compromise candidate to prevent the deadlock continuing into 1995.