OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo has died, Nigerian officials say

The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has died, Nigerian authorities have announced, just a day after meeting Nigeria’s president.

Mohammad Barkindo, 63, died late Tuesday in the Nigerian capital Abuja, a spokesman for the Nigerian petroleum ministry said, without revealing the cause.

His death came as a surprise to industry insiders. His second term as OPEC head was set to expire on July 31 in three weeks. He has held the position for six years since 2016.

Barkindo’s death was described in a tweet by Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) director Mele Kyari as “a great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, OPEC and the global energy community”.

Mr Barkindo led the crude oil bloc through some of the most turbulent times in recent memory, including during the COVID-19 pandemic when oil prices plummeted due to dwindling demand, and defended the energy industry in his latest public act at an oil conference in Abuja.

He helped guide OPEC and worked to keep the views of its members united.

His role as OPEC’s representative has taken on even greater significance in recent years amid a global effort to tackle climate change and avoid major polluters.

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Barkindo used his platform to advocate for a greater role for the energy industry in energy transition talks, positioning himself firmly on the side of oil producers, who say more investment in oil and gas is needed until the world is able to to run on alternative forms of energy.

“Our industry now faces enormous challenges on multiple fronts and these threaten our investment potential now and in the longer term. To put it bluntly, the oil and gas industry is under attack,” he said shortly before his death at an energy conference in Nigeria. .

Scientists and authors of UN-backed studies say the world must cut its coal, oil and gas production by more than half over the next decade to maintain the chances of global warming reaching dangerous levels. To do this, they say investments in oil and gas must stop and be diverted to cleaner forms of energy.

But Barkindo’s legacy is perhaps most tied to his final years as OPEC leader when the group entered into an agreement known as OPEC+ with the major non-OPEC producer, Russia.

That agreement, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and Russia, helped keep oil markets stable as the world emerges from the pandemic, though it has come under criticism amid current high oil prices and as the US and other Western countries try to slow down the Russian economy. because of the war in Ukraine. Brent oil has risen above $100 a barrel this year.

OPEC member states accounted for about 48 percent of global crude oil exports last year.

AP

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