The African Energy Chamber (AEC) (www.EnergyChamber.org) is deeply saddened by the passing of HE Muhammad Sansui Barkindo, oil industry veteran, African hero and close friend. HE Barkindo passed away at 11:00 p.m. on July 5, 2022 in his home country of Nigeria at the age of 63. An immeasurable loss, the ACS wishes to express its deepest condolences to the family and close friends of HE Barkindo as they navigate this difficult time."
While words cannot express the tragedy of this loss, HE Barkindo's legacy will be remembered by the global energy community for years to come. With a career spanning four decades, HE Barkindo dedicated his life and career to growing the oil and gas sectors in Nigeria, Africa and the world. His journey with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) began in 1986, where he served as Nigeria's delegation to the organization. Thereafter, his role in the organization grew as he took on other positions, including acting Secretary General of OPEC in 2006, represented Nigeria on the OPEC Board of Governors from 2009 to 2010, and was eventually appointed Secretary General in 2016, re-elected for three more years. in 2019.
Prior to his OPEC roles, HE Barkindo was a leading figure in the Nigerian energy space, having served as an advisor to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources and OPEC Secretary General, HE Dr. Rilwanu Lukman KBE, Deputy Managing Director of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas and Group General Manager and CEO of the NNPC. HE Barkindo had been the leader of the Nigerian technical delegation to the UN climate change negotiations since 1991, served as chair of the Group of 77 and China at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and was elected to fulfill three terms as vice-president of the Conference of the Parties – COP13, COP14 and COP15.
However, HE Barkindo's real achievements came in his tenure as Secretary General of OPEC. Representing OPEC's longest serving delegate, HE Barkindo navigated and oversaw some of the most turbulent periods in the organization's history. This began with the creation of the OPEC+ coalition a few months after his appointment as head of the organization, with HE Barkindo ushering in an unprecedented new era for the organization and once-unimaginable partnerships with non-member countries. , including Russia. In less than a year after his appointment, HE Barkindo took the organization to greater heights, uniting global energy producers in a diplomatic feat.
Meanwhile, following his re-election, HE Barkindo led the organization through one of the world's greatest crises: the COVID-19 pandemic. In his second term as Secretary-General, the leader experienced never-before-seen production cuts, fluctuations in world oil prices, and geopolitical tensions that had significant impacts on oil-producing nations around the world. In his role, HE Barkindo was instrumental, often seen as key to easing tensions and strengthening relationships across the alliance.
“HE Barkindo was our leader, our role model and our friend. The AEC is devastated by the news of his death. In Africa, he will always be remembered as a patriot, an instrumental figure who fought for the continent's right to develop our oil and gas. HE Barkindo lived a life of loyalty, friendship and perseverance. He will be remembered as the man who brought producers together, helped create OPEC+, fought to alleviate energy poverty and strengthened Africa's position as a global energy provider. He will be greatly missed,” said NJ Ayuk, CEO of AEC.
As we mourn the passing of HE Barkindo, the ACS urges all energy stakeholders to remember what our OPEC Secretary General fought for: the development of Africa and the world for the benefit of future generations.
Barkindo never shied away from visiting leaders around the world and advocating for abundant, cheap and reliable energy.JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, January 13, 2022 / APO Group / -
By NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Chamber of Energy (EnergyChamber.org)
Many will agree that OPEC Secretary General HE Mohammed Barkindo walks in the same shoes as the late world leaders Kofi Annan, who served as United Nations Secretary General, and former Minister Dr. Rilwanu Lukman. Nigerian and Secretary General of OPEC, who has been described as one of the most influential and respected ambassadors of the oil industry. Barkindo, throughout his tenure in OPEC, fought the good fight, finished his career, and kept the faith. After six years of what can best be described as remarkable leadership, he will hand over the reins to his successor, Kuwaiti Haitham al-Ghais, this July.
We knew the day was coming. After all, the position has a limited term and no one can lead the group forever. Barkindo has always been against staying one day longer than his term.
Yet the industry has grown accustomed to Barkindo's steady hand at the helm, guiding OPEC through the volatile waters that global oil and gas producers must navigate, including growing public sentiment against fossil fuels.
Had he maintained order during his tenure, that would have been enough, especially given the turmoil caused by the pandemic. But Barkindo is not one to settle for the status quo, even in the most difficult moments.
Of course, he could never have anticipated the global control of COVID-19. But he had the foresight to imagine how much of an impact OPEC could have through cooperation on an even more global scale, and that turned out to be key to stabilizing the market when demand hit record lows.
Barkindo cultivated a highly respectful relationship with oil-producing nations inside and outside OPEC, including Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, China, and Russia, as well as with U.S. shale producers. His talent for building bridges it was just what OPEC and producers around the world needed. In 2017, Barkindo steered OPEC towards a mutually advantageous relationship with 11 non-OPEC producers (10 nations since Equatorial Guinea joined OPEC in May 2017), including Russia. The benefits of the OPEC + alliance were very evident in 2020 when the pandemic hit and travel almost stopped in its tracks. It didn't help that an oil war broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia in March of that year, boosting production when demand was at a dramatic low. In April, oil futures plunged, for at least a day, into negative territory and the oil industry was in jeopardy. It was Mr. Barkindo who deftly brought all parties together to find a solution: the 23 members of OPEC and OPEC + agreed to record cuts in production, a move that helped oil prices to recover faster than they could. they could have done it differently. This result is a testament to Barkindo's skills as a leader, though of course President Trump took credit for solving the crisis. The OPEC Secretary General knew that the longer the price war continued, the more economic damage would be inflicted on Africa and many poor people around the world.
A champion for Africa
As head of OPEC, Barkindo has a duty to be impartial. However, it is not surprising that during his tenure the number of African member countries has increased. The homeland of Barkindo, Nigeria, joined OPEC 50 years ago. In his own words, the nation “played an important role in promoting the organization's focus on cooperation, goodwill, a sense of belonging and unity, and in working to achieve the stability of the oil market, aware of the benefits that This brings both producers and consumers. Since then, that sense of belonging and unity has spread to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo. Today, those countries have a seat at the table, so to speak, a greater say in how their oil resources are used to benefit their people and grow their economies.
Recognizing its support for the continent's energy industry, in 2018 the Africa Oil & Power Conference named Barkindo its Africa Oil Man of the Year. His leadership demonstrated that "if you want to go far, you go together," said Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea.
"He has been a great defender of African countries and has given them a voice to help stabilize oil markets," added Obiang Lima.
Barkindo has also been an advocate for Africa in the larger discussion on the energy transition. Having led Nigeria's technical delegation in the UN climate change negotiations for 30 years and serving three times as Vice Chair of the Conference of the Parties: COP13 (Bali, Indonesia), COP14 (Poznan, Poland) and COP15 (Copenhagen , Denmark) - is realistic about the way forward. He strongly believes that a world eager to meet the challenges of climate change must also accept that all sources of energy will be needed to meet current and future demand, especially as energy poverty remains a reality in large swaths of the continent.
Barkindo never shied away from visiting the world's leaders and advocating for abundant, cheap, and reliable energy. He also didn't shy away from difficult conversations. I remember him going against the advice of his advisers to have a civilized discussion with a climate change activist who insisted on protesting OPEC in Vienna. A pin could be heard drop as he spoke about energy poverty and his own experience growing up in poverty in Nigeria. His eloquence, transparency, and respectful approach gave many of us chills. He urged the young protesters to hold on to the idea of making the world a better place and welcomed them to be part of the solution to global solutions.
Over the past year, Barkindo has been a particularly outspoken opponent of the current move to restrict investment in hydrocarbons. Unless more is spent on new oil and gas developments, he warned, the world should prepare for energy shortages and rising prices. Shortly after the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Mr. Barkindo said that oil and gas had been unfairly flagged at the event as unsuitable for the energy transition, a claim that is blatantly false. The global gas shortage that occurred in the fall of 2021, when European countries became increasingly dependent on burning coal instead, should have been a global "wake-up call," he said, that investment is required in the entire oil and gas industry.
During a visit to Congo Brazzaville, Oil Minister Bruno Jean Richard Itoua and the current OPEC president described Barkindo as a true son of Africa, a man with a love for the continent who embraced the Congo without reservation. There are so many stories that it would take a book to cover everything Mr. Barkindo does when it comes to encouraging investors to look at Africa and urging Africans to create an environment conducive to doing business. I can tell you this: he does it with class.
Served with integrity
For many African companies and countries, Barkindo has been a source of encouragement and inspiration, broadening their belief that success is possible. He raised their sights and encouraged them to serve with integrity and maturity.
In turn, leading OPEC has been a positive experience that changed Barkindo's life. He has made amazing friends whom he calls family, and I think if you asked him quietly if he would do it again, the answer would be yes. He will still tell you: "I am proud of OPEC and I am a proud Nigerian and Africa is my home."
Although Barkindo has not publicly said what his plans are after al-Ghais succeeds him, his legacy is assured. A veteran of Nigeria's energy industry, equal parts businessman and diplomat, and a humble person of unfailing faith, his wisdom, strength, advice and direction are greatly appreciated and will be deeply missed in OPEC. But, knowing Barkindo, he would be quick to ask us to be patient with him; he would point out that God is not done with him yet.