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REFILE-UPDATE 1-OPEC deadlocked over top post

Alex Lawler and Amena Bakr
Tuesday, 23 Oct 2012 | 3:59 PM ET

(Adds additional credit)

* OPEC secretary general post comes up in 2013

* Saudi, Iran, Iraq, Ecuador compete for the job

* Panel meeting in Vienna makes no recommendation-delegates

LONDON/DUBAI, Oct 23(Reuters) - OPEC remains in a stalemate over selecting its next secretary general, delegates to the producer group said on Tuesday after a two-day meeting, due to rivalry between four member-countries over its top administrative post.

A panel of officials met at the Vienna headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Monday and Tuesday, to advise OPEC oil ministers on who should succeed Abdullah al-Badri, whose term in the job ends in December.

``No progress was made on a single name recommendation,'' one of the delegates said, declining to be identified as the talks are confidential. ``Now it is up to the ministers.''

OPEC has often struggled to agree on a secretary general. This time the task comes as Western sanctions on Iran have heightened political tensions within the group. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Ecuador have all nominated candidates.

The panel consists mainly of OPEC governors - oil officials who represent their countries on the group's board of governors. Part of its work included interviewing each candidate, an OPEC source said.

OPEC delegates say the four candidates are Saudi Arabia's OPEC governor, Majid Al-Moneef; Thamir Ghadhban, energy adviser to Iraq's prime minister; former Iranian oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari; and the oil minister of Ecuador, Wilson Pastor.

Delegates told Reuters on Monday the OPEC panel was likely to find reaching a consensus on one candidate difficult.

``In my opinion the Saudi candidate is the most qualified, but Iran would never be OK with this,'' a delegate said. ``It will be hard for the committee to recommend a candidate.''

The secretary general is the main representative on the world stage of the producer group, helps formulate its output policy and is in charge of OPEC's Vienna secretariat. T h e appointment of Badri, a Libyan, starting in 2007, ended a three-year impasse over the job.

Any decision on his successor will be made by OPEC's oil ministers at their Dec. 12 meeting, when they will also decide the group's oil output policy. It was not immediately clear if the panel would meet again before December.

OPEC officials have also raised the possibility of Badri being asked to remain in the post beyond the end of his term if a successor cannot be chosen.

(Additional reporting by Michael Shields, editing by William Hardy)