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Iran’s governor for OPEC, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili is in a coma following a severe cerebral hemorrhage, Iranian media are reporting.
The official, who used to be deputy oil minister and deputy foreign minister in the 1980s, was hospitalized on Friday, media reports said.
Bloomberg recalls Ardebili was first appointed governor to OPEC for Iran in 1985. The agency noted that the official is a close advisor to Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh and an experienced negotiator who plays a central role in the formation of Iran’s official position on various oil-related topics.
Ardebili was also instrumental in the recovery of the Iranian oil industry after the signing of the so-called nuclear deal that put an end to UN sanctions against the country, imposed because of its uranium enrichment program.
Regarding Ardebili’s current state, Bloomberg quoted an Iranian government official as saying his hospitalization was unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak. The OPEC governor had had serious heart problems that prevented him from attending the OPEC meeting in March.
Iran was one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus, with total infections at more than 97,400 and the death toll at 6,203.
The country is also suffering under the double blow of low oil prices and U.S. sanctions targeting its oil industry, which is vital for its economy. Even in such a context, Iran is still exporting oil and as it surfaced last week, helping Venezuela repair its refineries, which are operating at very low run rates because of years of mismanagement. Venezuela is reportedly paying for the services in gold.
Iran is also shipping oil to Syria, despite sanctions against both countries, according to data from TankerTrackers.com. With China reducing its intake of crude from abroad amid the coronavirus epidemic in January and February, Syria may have become Iran’s largest oil buyer, at least temporarily.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.