The death of the Secretary-General of OPEC, a few weeks after his departure
Abuja, Nigeria (AFP) – Secretary-General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries On Wednesday, the Nigerian authorities and the oil cartel announced his death. Just hours before his death, he met with the Nigerian president and spoke in defense of the energy industry amid the increasing pressure of climate change.
A Nigerian Petroleum Ministry spokesman told the Associated Press that Muhammed Barkindo, 63, died late Tuesday in Abuja. The cause of his death was not immediately known. The Vienna-based oil cartel confirmed his death, saying he was a “much liked leader” of OPEC.
His death came as a surprise to industry insiders. His second term as OPEC chief was due to end three weeks later on July 31. He has held this position for six years since 2016.
Barkindo’s death was first confirmed in a tweet by the Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mille Kyari.
The OPEC statement said Barkindo’s last words to friends were that he was happy that his term as Secretary-General had ended, that he had done the best he could and that he was proud of those who served with him.
Barkindo led the crude oil block during some of the most turbulent times in recent memory, including during the COVID-19 pandemic when oil prices plummeted due to lower demand. He helped direct the group, working to standardize the positions of its members.
The 13 member countries of OPEC have 1.24 billion proven crude oil reserves between them, or 80% of the world’s share. Of the total global crude oil production, the share of OPEC producers is just under 38%.
His role in representing OPEC has gained greater importance in recent years amid a global effort to tackle climate change. Barkindo used his platform to advocate for a greater role for the energy industry in the talks about the transmission of energy. This put him in a strong position on the side of oil producers who say more investment in oil and gas is needed so that the world can operate with alternative forms of energy.
Our industry is now facing huge challenges on multiple fronts, and they threaten our investment potential now and in the long term. And frankly, the oil and gas industry is under siege,” he said hours before his death at an energy conference in Nigeria.
Scientists and authors of UN-supported studies They say the world needs to cut more than half of its production of coal, oil and gas in the next decade to preserve a chance of preventing global warming from reaching dangerous levels. To do this, they say investments in oil and gas must stop and that it be converted into cleaner forms of energy.
However, Barkindo’s legacy may have more to do with his later years in directing OPEC as the group entered into an agreement known as OPEC+. With the main non-OPEC producer, Russia. That agreement, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, has helped stabilize oil markets as the world emerges from the pandemic, although it has come under criticism. Amid the current high oil prices and while the United States and other Western countries are trying to put pressure on the Russian economy due to the war in Ukraine. Brent crude has jumped above $100 a barrel this year.
OPEC member countries accounted for about 48% of total global crude oil exports last year. Saudi Arabia is by far the largest exporter of crude within OPEC, with crude oil exports last year reaching 6.23 million barrels per day. Russia, a producer outside OPEC, exported 4.5 million barrels of crude last year.
Born in Yola, eastern Nigeria, Barkindo began his career with the Nigerian Mining Company in 1982 before taking various positions over two decades at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, including as its CEO. He also held the position of Deputy Director General of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas.
He has led Nigeria’s technical delegation to the UN climate change negotiations for years and served several terms as Vice-President of the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties.
He attended university in Nigeria before obtaining a Postgraduate Degree in Petroleum Economics from Oxford University in the United Kingdom and an MBA from the University of Washington in the United States.
Meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari told Barkindo: “Welcome home!” According to OPEC’s reading of the meeting. Bukhari also congratulated him on his tenure in OPEC. Nigeria has been a member of OPEC for 50 years.
Barkindo was due to join the Atlantic Council as a distinguished fellow next month, having finished his term in OPEC. He was a frequent speaker at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum.
Elbatrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.