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Oil watchdog unanimously votes in new chief 13 février 2015

Posted by Acturca in Energy / Energie, Turkey / Turquie.
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Financial Times (USA Ed) February 13, 2015, p. 20

By Anjli Raval

The chief economist of the International Energy Agency is close to being confirmed as the head of the wealthy nations’ energy watchdog.

Fatih Birol applied for the position of IEA executive director late last year and has been the preferred candidate to replace Maria van der Hoeven at the Paris-based organisation.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said yesterday Mr Birol was « the first executive director in the history of the IEA who has been elected with the support of all member states ».

Mr Birol has served as chief economist for the past nine of his 20-years tenure at the IEA, which advises 29 industrialised countries on energy policy.

He is responsible for the watchdog’s closely watched annual World Energy Outlook report, which lays out supply and demand forecasts for the next 20 years.

Mr Birol, who is a Turkish citizen, previously worked for Opec, which represents some of the biggest oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Venezuela.

He is considered more plain-spoken than Ms van der Hoeven, whose term expires on September 1. Mr Birol declined to comment.

A candidate from Greece who also applied for the top job did not have the support of important IEA member countries such as the US and Japan, according to people familiar with the matter.

The organisation declined to comment on the selection process, except to say: « The IEA secretariat has no information about the identities of potential candidates as this process is confidential and is directly handled by the governing board. »

The change at the helm of the IEA comes amid turmoil in oil markets. Prices have halved since June last year as relentless US supply and sustained output from Opec nations have coincided with a slowdown in global demand.

In recent months the IEA has come under fire from oil traders, energy companies and investors for repeated dramatic reductions to its demand growth forecasts, which are said to have put further pressure on prices.

Mr Birol has warned that lower prices, combined with turmoil in the Middle East, will reduce investment in oil-producing regions such as Iraq, which could threaten future supplies at a time when demand is set to increase.

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