Opec secretary general Mohammad Barkindo dies aged 63

He served as head of the group of oil producers for six years during a turbulent period in the market

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Opec secretary general Mohammad Barkindo has died, the group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum said on Wednesday.

“We lost our esteemed Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo,” Mele Kyari tweeted.

Mr Barkindo, who was 63, died at about 11pm on July 5, Mr Kyari said.

His passing is “a great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC [the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation], our country Nigeria, Opec and the global energy community”, he said.

Mr Barkindo was appointed Opec secretary general in 2016. The role has a three-year tenure and his term was renewed in 2019 until this year.

The second term was due to end this month, with Kuwait's Haitham Al-Ghais, a veteran of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and Kuwait’s Opec governor from 2017 to June 2021, set to take over.

Mr Barkindo was “instrumental in expanding Opec’s historical efforts to support sustainable oil market stability through enhanced dialogue and co-operation with many energy stakeholders, including the landmark DoC [Declaration of Co-operation] since its inception in December 2016”, Opec said in January, when Mr Al-Ghais was appointed.

The DoC led to the 13 Opec member countries teaming up with major non-Opec oil producers, including Russia, to create the Opec+ super group to stabilise the global oil market.

The last few years marked one of the most turbulent times in the history of the oil market, and Mr Barkindo had to work diplomatically to bring the oil producers together.

During his tenure, the group adopted a number of measures to keep markets balanced, with big production cuts enforced during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic as demand for oil plunged.

Opec mourned his passing and said it was a “profound loss to the entire Opec family, the oil industry and the international community”.

Earlier this week, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had also expressed his nation's gratitude to Mr Barkindo for his efforts as Opec secretary general.

“You have indeed been a worthy ambassador of our country. We are proud of your achievements before and during your appointment at Opec, and the proud legacies you will leave behind,” Mr Buhari said.

“Your time in charge of the affairs of Opec has been a very challenging one for the global oil industry. Oil producers were finding it difficult to come together to address challenges that were crippling the oil market.

“Not long after, the world was faced with the Covid-19 pandemic that sent crude prices spiralling down at an alarming rate. You showed incredible leadership to rally industry players and pushed through the turbulent times.”

Mohammad Barkindo addresses delegates at the opening of the Nigeria Oil & Gas 2022 meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday. Reuters

Born in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria, Mr Barkindo earned a degree in political science from Ahmadu Bello University before taking up further studies at Oxford in the UK and Washington University in the US.

His career began with the Nigerian Mining Corporation in 1982, and he went on to become special assistant to the minister of mines, power and steel in Lagos.

From 1992, Mr Barkindo spent 24 years working in various capacities at the NNPC. His association with Opec began in 1986, when he was the Nigerian delegate to the Opec Ministerial Conferences.

He was married with children.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 4:22 PM