The late energy official has been praised by world and industrial leaders for his important role in the oil organisation.
Mohammad Barkindo, secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), died on Tuesday at the age of 63.
Mele Kyari, the head of Nigeria’s National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), announced the news on Wednesday, describing it as “a great loss” to Barkindo’s family and the global energy industry.
“He died at about 11pm yesterday 5th July 2022. Certainly a great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, the OPEC and the global energy community. Burial arrangements will be announced shortly,” tweeted Kyari on Wednesday.
Barkindo assumed his position at OPEC in 2016 amid shifting marketing patterns as the world faced the COVID-19 outbreak. His death also comes as the world grapples with an energy crisis in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“This tragedy is a shock to the OPEC Family. We express our sorrow and deep gratitude for the over 40 years of selfless service that Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo gave to OPEC. His dedication and leadership will inspire OPEC for many years to come,” the OPEC secretariat said in a tweet.
The former OPEC official was set to join the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center after leaving the oil organisation as a distinguished fellow.
Qatar formally withdrew from OPEC in 2019 amid a GCC crisis that was triggered by an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Doha by its neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt.
While the withdrawal was seen as a direct response to the blockade, officials said the decision was made in order to allow Qatar to develop and increase its natural gas production.
Hours before his death, the Nigerian energy official delivered a speech in Abuja, where he addressed the impact of various crises on the industry, as Reuters reported.
“In a very short timespan, the industry has been hit by two major cycles – the severe market downturn in 2015 and 2016, and the even more far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Barkindo.
He also met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari earlier on Tuesday, where the leader described Barkindo as someone who displayed “incredible leadership” through challenging times.
“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,” said Buhari.
Barkindo will be replaced by Kuwaiti industry official Haitham Al-Ghais, who was voted in as the chief on 3 January.
Barkindo’s early life
The late official launched his career in his homeland in the 1980’s and held various positions at the NNPC. Barkindo later became the acting OPEC secretary general in 2006 and returned to his position after 10 years, an experience he described as “the honour of a lifetime”.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the Ahmadu Bello University in 1981. Barkindo later earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Petroleum Economics at Oxford University in 1988.
The energy expert then pursued his education in Finance and Banking at Washington University, and received a Master of Business Administration in 1991. His educational journey continued in the US, where he was a fellow at the George Mason University between 2013 and 2016.
Some of the prestigious positions he held included the chairmanship of the OPEC Task Force of the 15th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD).