OPEC Secretary General Muhammad Barkindo dies at 63

Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Aaron M Bloomberg | Getty Images

Muhammad Barkindo, Nigerian politician and Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has died at the age of 63.

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) chief Melle Kyari announced the news in a tweet Wednesday, confirmed by two OPEC sources.

“We have lost respected Dr. Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo,” tweeted early Wednesday morning from his verified Twitter account.

“He passed away at around 11pm yesterday the 5th of July 2022. Certainly a great loss to his immediate family, NNPC, our country Nigeria, OPEC and the global energy community. Burial arrangements will be announced soon.”

Barkindo’s unexpected death came as a surprise to members of the oil and gas world, who many have described as a giant in the industry.

His career spanned over four decades and included work for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Duke Oil, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Energy, as well as OPEC.

Since taking over as OPEC Secretary-General in 2016, Barkindo has overseen turbulent times for the oil producer group, which has seen volatile markets shaken by historical events including the COVID-19 pandemic, and the creation of the OPEC+ alliance with Russia and other non-affiliated countries. OPEC countries, the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While the organization lost two members, Qatar and Ecuador, during that time, Barkindo is nonetheless credited with guiding unity among the group’s members in an effort to stabilize global oil markets.

Barkindo’s death comes at a time of volatile energy markets, global inflation, rising climate risks, the ongoing fallout from the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. Conflicts and geopolitical sanctions have tightened oil supplies, pushing prices to multi-year highs amid fears of a global recession.

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Atlantic Council CEO Frederic Quimby previously described Barkindo as having “unparalleled expertise in oil markets, security and governance” and “a deep understanding of geopolitics in a volatile world”.

In a statement in the Council’s July 1 announcement of the new fellowship, Barkindo said: “I am deeply honored to be recognized as a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council…I look forward to contributing to the organization’s work on a large number of energy-related issues, at a time when the eyes of the world are focused on energy market prospects in the short and long term.

—Emma Graham of CNBC contributed to this article.

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