LONDON - Alirio Parra, a Venezuelan oil official who helped found the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and remained influential at its meetings, has died, aged 90.
Parra, as an assistant to Venezuela's then energy minister, attended the meeting in Baghdad in 1960 of officials from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq in Baghdad that formed the now Vienna-based OPEC.
OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo paid tribute to "one of the great men of the industry" in a draft OPEC statement seen by Reuters.
Parra served as Venezuela's minister of energy and mines from 1992 to 1994 and head of its OPEC delegation, and also held the OPEC presidency. He was a board member of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA.
In later years, he played an influential, unofficial role at the exporter group's meetings to set oil policy, sometimes helping the fractious group to reach agreement, sources said.
"He would always go to Vienna for the meetings," an industry source who knew Parra said. "He did not go to the OPEC Secretariat but people would come and see him. He was quietly influential."
He attended the vast majority of OPEC's 173 meetings since 1960 in various capacities, since 1997 as a member of the board of CWC Associates, an energy conference organiser.
"He was not only instrumental in founding OPEC but continued to be associated with the organization throughout his eventful life," an OPEC source said.
(Reporting by Alex Lawler, editing by David Evans) ((email@example.com; +44 207 542 4087; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))