The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) should set production quotas for individual members, Iran demanded Thursday at a meeting of the cartel, highlighting divisions over the group's production strategy.

Some Arab members of OPEC would like to restart a discussion on freezing output at current levels to ramp up prices, but Iran has been calling for a special quota for its production, arguing that it currently needs to increase exports since nuclear-related sanctions have been lifted.

"A ceiling without country quotas is meaningless," Tehran's Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh told reporters minutes before a meeting with his OPEC colleagues in Vienna.

Venezuelan Petroleum Minister Eugenio Del Pino backed up Tehran's position by speaking out against a freeze and stressing that Iran should have the opportunity to fully return to oil markets.

Led by Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries first attempted to negotiate a freeze in April together with non-OPEC member Russia, but the effort failed due to opposition from Iran.

Nigerian Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu acknowledged that OPEC currently has little power to influence markets by adding or removing oil barrels.

"Obviously we want the price to do better, but we have come to see that OPEC does not have the capacity to be the swing producer it was in the past," he said.

Oil prices remained nearly unchanged Wednesday. The benchmark price for European Brent oil traded at 49.82 dollars per barrel.

Prices have risen sharply since the start of the year owing to production outages in Nigeria and Canada, but some OPEC members feel that they are still so low that companies are holding off investments in oil fields, putting long-term supplies at risk.

OPEC members were expected to elect a new secretary general Thursday to succeed long-time incumbent Abdalla Salem El-Badri.

Nigeria, Indonesia and Venezuela have fielded candidates.

Nigeria's Mohammed Barkindo is seen as the front-runner by analysts, given that he has headed the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and served as acting secretary general of OPEC in 2006.

"We are very optimistic," Nigeria's Kachikwu said.

The other two candidates are Mahendra Siregar, a former Indonesian deputy finance minister and Venezuela's former energy minister Ali Rodriguez.

If countries cannot agree on a name, they could appoint a chief on a rotational basis among member states, OPEC ministers announced late last year.

However, OPEC's policies are not set by the secretary general or the Vienna secretariat, but by its member states.

The cartel's production accounts for a third of global oil exports.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.