The head of OPEC – the powerful cartel that represents many of the world’s biggest oil producers – has died at the age of 63.
Mohammad Barkindo died late Tuesday, a spokesman for Nigeria’s petroleum industry.
The cause of death is not immediately known, but reports say he died hours after meeting the Nigerian president and speaking at an energy summit in the country.
Mr Barkindo’s tenure as head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – whose 13 member countries account for 80% of the world’s proven oil reserves – was due to end this month after six years.
He led the group through a dramatic drop in oil prices during the pandemic, when some producers eventually had to pay people to take their oil.
His legacy is likely defined by the OPEC+ deal struck with Russia and other non-OPEC countries early in his tenure in 2016.
The group cut production significantly to stabilize oil prices when COVID hit.
However, the deal has come under particular scrutiny amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the current high oil prices, which are driving up petrol prices.
OPEC spoke of a “profound loss” for the oil industry and called him a “selfless man of great humility and decency”.
in one expressionOPEC said he “served with great distinction, helping her successfully navigate two major industry downturns (2015-2016 and 2020-2021).”
In his keynote speech in Abuja hours before his death, Mr Barkindo said the oil and gas industry is still suffering from the huge investment losses of recent years and is “under siege”.
“In a very short span of time, the industry has been hit by two major cycles – the severe market downturn in 2015 and 2016 and the even broader impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Mr. Barkindo began his career with Nigerian Mining Corporation in 1982 and has worked for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for more than two decades.
Born in Yola, Nigeria, he holds a postgraduate degree in Petroleum Economics from Oxford University and an MBA from Washington University.