Crude oil tanker (file).
Crude oil tanker (file). Israel news photo: Flash 90

The 12 member nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have elected Iran, OPEC's second-largest oil producer and one of its founding members, to become the organization's 2011 president.

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi announced Thursday the Islamic Republic would take up the rotating presidency in the 50-year-old organization for the first time in 36 years. Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi was unanimously elected to the position at a one-day meeting on October 14, during the organization's 157th session in Vienna.

OPEC, which provides 40 percent of the world's oil, is comprised of Algeria, Angola, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The group also decided not to make any changes to its official oil production target, currently standing at 24.84 million barrels a day. Current President Wilson Pastor-Morris of Ecuador told reporters after the meeting the decision was made “because the market is good.”

The price of crude has varied between $70 to slightly more than $80 per barrel over the past year and was quote at $81.48 a barrel at the close of Friday's trading,. Strong energy demand combined with an uncertain economic future have  prompted OPEC to maintain steady prices, rather than risk slowing a global economic recovery.