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Opec member nations are set to vote on the organization's next secretary-general on Jan. 3, a day before the next ministerial meeting with their non-Opec allies. With just one candidate in the race at the moment, the process is expected to go smoothly. However, as is often the case with Opec, a late surprise cannot be ruled out. The new secretary-general will take over on Aug. 1, 2022, from Mohammed Barkindo of Nigeria, whose term started on Aug. 1, 2016. Barkindo has earned plaudits for steering Opec through a tumultuous period, during which the Covid-19 pandemic caused global oil demand to collapse. On his watch, Opec forged closer ties with Russia and other non-Opec producers in the so-called Opec-plus alliance. This larger grouping responded to the pandemic with huge oil production cuts that are now being gradually reversed. There is just one contender at the moment. Kuwait has nominated its former Opec governor, Haitham al-Ghais, to become the organization's next secretary-general. Iraqi officials have said they may present a candidate, but to date no name has been put forward. One Opec delegate said last-minute nominations might even be made on the day of the meeting and might include a candidate from Venezuela.

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