Iran's longtime OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, has died from a brain hemorrhage two weeks after falling into a coma.
The Iranian Oil Ministry’s Shana news agency reported on May 16 that Ardebili died in a Tehran hospital. He was 68.
Ardebili served as Iran’s governor to the OPEC oil cartel for nearly 20 years, conducting negotiations with other key oil players such as rival Saudi Arabia.
Alongside his close ally, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Ardebili was one of the country’s main strategists in conducting global oil policy.
Ardebili had been Iran’s representative to OPEC since 2013, after previously holding the position from 1995 to 2008.
In a career spanning the life of the Islamic Republic, Ardebili also held positions in the 1980s as minister of commerce, deputy foreign minister for the economy, and deputy oil minister for international affairs. From 1990 to 1995 he served as ambassador to Japan.
Iran has the world's fourth-biggest oil reserves and second-largest natural-gas reserves.
But its economy has been battered by sanctions imposed by the United States since President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
Washington's imposition of a full line of sanctions in November 2018 targeted key Iranian economic spheres -- including the banking and oil sectors -- and denied the government its main source of revenue while making international trade increasingly difficult.