December 11, 2012 / 1:55 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 3-OPEC set for easy oil deal, secretary-general dispute

* OPEC set to keep 30 mln bpd output target

* Iran wants supply to be reduced in line with target

* Cartel says pumping 30.8 mln bpd, Saudi trims to 9.5 mbpd in Nov

* OPEC experts see H1 2013 OPEC demand at only 29.25 mbpd

* Badri likely to stay in sec-gen post for another 6 months (updates throughout)

By Alex Lawler and Reem Shamseddine

VIENNA, Dec 11 (Reuters) - OPEC oil exporters on Tuesday were set to avoid a quarrel about how much crude they produce and argue instead about who should be the group’s next secretary-general.

Oil prices are roughly where OPEC wants them - comfortably above $100 a barrel - but there is deadlock over who should be the new public face of the organization.

At a meeting in Vienna on Wednesday the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected without fuss to retain its 30 million barrel a day (bpd) output target for the first six months of 2013.

“Thirty million barrels, it’s OK,” said Angolan Oil Minister Jose de Vasconcelos. “I think we will stay at this level.”

“As long as there is demand there is no need to change,” said the Mohammed al-Hamli, oil minister for the United Arab Emirates, which is normally aligned on oil policy with leading producer Saudi Arabia.

Iran, often among the most hawkish in OPEC on price, said it was satisfied with a market now near $108 a barrel for Brent crude. “The market situation is good right now, relatively balanced. The price is OK for the moment, it’s not too high,” said Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi.

Still, Tehran says it will ask OPEC to rein back supply in line with the official 30-million-bpd target.

“Iran’s first request from OPEC members will be returning to agreed commitments regarding production limits,” Iranian oil ministry spokesman Alireza Nikzad-Rahbar said.

That remark was likely aimed at Saudi Arabia which lifted supply earlier in the year to replace the one-million-bpd drop caused by Western sanctions against Iran for its nuclear programme. Riyadh would be expected to cut first in the event prices take a dive.

Recognizing that crude demand growth is slowing as the global economy stalls again, Saudi has already moved to trim deliveries.

In its submission to an OPEC report released on Tuesday, Saudi said it cut output to 9.5 million bpd in November having topped a 30-year high over 10 million bpd in the summer. That helped reduce overall OPEC November output to 30.8 million bpd.

OPEC’s maths suggest the group is pumping much more than world markets need in the first half of next year, pointing to a substantial stockbuild and the possibility of a fall in prices.

The cartel’s economists assess demand for OPEC crude in the first half of 2013 at 29.25 million bpd, implying a 1.5 million bpd stockbuild during that period on the 90 million bpd world market, assuming OPEC rates of supply continue as now.

“While prices are in the comfort zone there is little appetite for over-analysing the fundamentals even if there is a little too much oil,” said Bill Farren-Price of Petroleum Policy Intelligence.

While agreement on output policy looks straightforward, a decision on who to appoint secretary-general does not.

Candidates from Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are competing to replace the 72-year old Libyan Abdullah al-Badri, in the job for the past 5 years, but as has happened before in the election for the post, there is stalemate.

That means, said OPEC delegates, that Badri likely will be asked to stay in the job for another 6 months.

“This is a difficult situation,” said Iraqi oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi. “It is dangerous for the future of the organization. This condition might affect the oil markets.”

The candidates are Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor Majid Al-Moneef, former Iranian oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari and Thamir Ghadhban the energy adviser to Iraq’s prime minister.

Additional reporting by Amena Bakr, Peg Mackey, Emma Farge. Editing by Richard Mably and William Hardy

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