The world has lost a key figure in the global energy sector. Mohammad Barkindo, the Secretary General of OPEC since 2016, passed away on July 5, 2022, in Abuja, Nigeria, at the age of 63. His death is mourned by leaders and colleagues around the world. During his illustrious career spanning over 25 years in the oil and gas industry, Barkindo worked tirelessly to strengthen cooperation between OPEC member countries and non-OPEC oil-producing nations. Under his leadership, a historic agreement was reached in 2016 to cut oil production in order to stabilise global oil prices. Barkindo’s pivotal role in fostering dialogue and building consensus made him one of the most respected and influential leaders within OPEC and on the global energy stage. His wisdom, experience, and collaborative spirit will be deeply missed. The passing of Mohammad Barkindo is a tremendous loss for the oil industry and the international community.
The Life and Career of Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC’s Secretary General
The passing of Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC from August 2016 until July 2021, is a tremendous loss for the organisation and the global oil industry. Throughout his distinguished career spanning over 30 years, Barkindo worked tirelessly to forge cooperation between OPEC member nations and championed oil market stability.
Born in Nigeria in 1959, Barkindo first joined OPEC in 1986 as the Acting OPEC National Representative of Nigeria. He then served his home country in various roles, including Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from 2009 to 2010. In 2016, Barkindo was unanimously elected as OPEC’s Secretary General, a role he was re-elected to in 2019.
As Secretary General, Barkindo was instrumental in strengthening OPEC’s position in the global energy landscape. Under his direction, OPEC collaborated with 10 non-OPEC countries, headed by Russia, to reduce oil production in an effort to hasten market rebalancing. The ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ in December 2016 marked the first time OPEC collaborated with non-OPEC producers on such a large scale. Owing much to Barkindo’s deft diplomacy and negotiation skills, the agreement was an unequivocal success, helping lift oil prices from historic lows.
Barkindo’s passing in July 2021 signifies the end of an era for OPEC. However, his legacy of international cooperation and championing oil market stability will live on. The indelible mark Barkindo has left on OPEC and the industry as a whole secures his place as one of the most influential figures in oil market history. Our thoughts are with his family and all who had the privilege of knowing him.
Barkindo’s Leadership and Impact on OPEC
As Secretary General of OPEC from 2016 until his passing in 2022, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo played an instrumental role in stabilising global oil markets during a time of turbulence. His pragmatic leadership and mediation skills were crucial in bringing OPEC and non-OPEC nations together to curb oversupply and boost prices.
Under Barkindo’s guidance, OPEC and its allies executed the largest production cut in history when they agreed to slash output by 1.8 million barrels per day in December 2016. The landmark deal helped accelerate the recovery of oil prices from 12-year lows, providing economic relief for oil-exporting nations.
Barkindo’s diplomatic approach and consummate negotiating abilities were vital in securing cooperation from all parties. He worked tirelessly to foster consensus and joint action to address the severe oil price downturn of 2014–2016. His successor will have large shoes to fill.
The Secretary General was a passionate advocate for developing nations. He championed their interests on issues like technology transfer, transparency, and inclusion. Barkindo also pushed for greater participation of African oil producers in global energy forums.
Mohammad Barkindo left an indelible mark on OPEC and the international oil sector. Through skillful leadership, mediation, and relationship building, he helped restore stability to markets and unity of purpose among nations. His wisdom, experience, and humanity will be sorely missed. The legacy of his transformative tenure at OPEC will live on for decades to come.
Looking Ahead: OPEC Faces Uncertainty Without Barkindo
Loss of a Visionary Leader
The passing of Mohammad Barkindo in July 2022 signifies the loss of a pivotal leader who helped guide OPEC through periods of both cooperation and conflict. As Secretary General of OPEC for the past six years, Barkindo has been instrumental in building consensus among member nations and stabilising global oil markets. His decades of experience in Nigeria’s petroleum sector gave him a unique understanding of both OPEC and non-OPEC oil-exporting countries.
An Uncertain Road Ahead
With Barkindo’s term as Secretary General set to expire at the end of 2022, OPEC now faces the challenging task of finding a successor to fill this important role. Barkindo’s vision, diplomatic skills, and intimate knowledge of the global oil landscape will be difficult to replace. His successor will need to navigate ongoing tensions between OPEC members like Saudi Arabia and Iran, build trust with non-OPEC allies like Russia, and advance OPEC’s mission of ensuring the efficient, economic, and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on investment to those investing in the petroleum industry.
Maintaining Stability and Cooperation
In the coming years, OPEC’s ability to cooperate and reach production agreements with its non-OPEC allies will be critical to stabilising oil markets and prices. The OPEC+ alliance formed in 2016 helped end a price war that had decimated oil-exporting economies. However, the agreement to curb oil production is set to expire at the end of 2022. OPEC’s next Secretary General must work to build consensus around either extending or revising this agreement to avoid another destabilising price war.
With adept leadership, OPEC can continue to fulfil its mission of ensuring stable oil markets that benefit both producers and consumers. However, without Barkindo’s steady guidance, OPEC may face a period of uncertainty in an era where the global energy transition is accelerating. OPEC’s next chapter may heavily depend on choosing a Secretary General who can carry on Barkindo’s important work. His death leaves behind an enormous legacy and even bigger shoes to fill.
Why Barkindo Was Such an Effective Leader?
As Secretary General of OPEC, Mohammad Barkindo showed exemplary leadership and helped guide the organisation during a pivotal time. His vision, diplomacy, and devotion to cooperation were instrumental in OPEC’s effectiveness and success.
Barkindo was a gifted diplomat known for bringing parties together and finding common ground. He helped strengthen relationships between OPEC member countries as well as build bridges with non-OPEC oil-exporting nations. His ability to foster understanding and cooperation was key to landmark agreements like the Declaration of Cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC countries.
Barkindo was a strategic, big-picture thinker. He recognised early on the challenges of a rapidly transforming energy sector and saw cooperation as the path forward. Under his leadership, OPEC focused on long-term market stability rather than short-term gains. Barkindo championed international dialogue and the exchange of ideas with the goal of ensuring a mutually beneficial, sustainable future for producers and consumers alike.
Dedication to Excellence
Those who worked with Barkindo spoke of his unparalleled dedication, strong work ethic, and commitment to excellence. He was a tireless advocate for OPEC and worked diligently behind the scenes to build trust in the organisation and support its mission. Barkindo’s deep knowledge, experience, and passion for the oil industry made him an invaluable leader. His positive impact on OPEC will endure for years to come.
Barkindo was, in so many ways, the ideal leader for such a time as this. His passion for partnership, gift for bringing people together, forward-thinking vision, and utter devotion to the cause made him uniquely suited to head OPEC during a period of immense challenges and changes. The oil industry has lost a great champion, but his legacy of cooperation and leadership will live on.
The loss of Mohammad Barkindo leaves behind an immense void in the global energy sector that will not easily be filled. His visionary leadership and diplomatic acumen helped guide OPEC through times of both abundance and scarcity. All those who had the privilege of knowing you will sincerely miss your wisdom and kindness. Though you have passed, the indelible mark you left on the world stage will endure. Your life’s work brought stability and cooperation during periods of geopolitical turmoil and fostered a spirit of shared responsibility among nations. Mohammad Barkindo, you were a giant among men and a steward of humanity. May you rest in peace, knowing you made the world a little bit better. The light you shone will continue to illuminate the path forward. Farewell to a legend