LONDON (Reuters) - Two more countries are likely to field candidates for OPEC's next secretary general, OPEC sources said on Wednesday, widening a competition within the oil producer cartel for its top administrative post.
Ecuador, OPEC's smallest producer, has nominated a potential successor to current OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri, whose term ends at the end of 2012, a source said. Iran, its second-largest producer, is expected to do so.
"There is a process for nominating a candidate and Iran is always active on this issue," an OPEC delegate who declined to be identified told Reuters.
The secretary general, the main representative on the world stage of the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, helps formulate the group's output policy and is in charge of OPEC's Vienna secretariat.
Candidates from Iran and Ecuador would bring the number of countries competing for the role to four. OPEC will discuss the issue at its next meeting on June 14 in Vienna.
The two declared candidates are Thamir Ghadhban, the top energy adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and Saudi Arabia's longtime OPEC governor, Majid Al-Moneef.
OPEC appears to have given itself little formal meeting time when it meets on June 14 for discussions on the secretary general and its production policy. Still, ministers will have plenty of scope to talk on the sidelines.
According to an agenda on OPEC's website, the OPEC meeting starts at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) Vienna time on June 14 and ends with a news conference at 5 p.m. The closed session of ministers, where policy is usually decided, is scheduled to last just one hour.
"The timings look pretty tight," said an OPEC source.
OPEC delegates have said oil ministers will probably not change oil output at the meeting given uncertainties such as downside risks to the economy.
The group has also struggled to agree on a secretary general candidate in the past.
Reporting by Alex Lawler; editing by Keiron Henderson