OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo unexpectedly died Tuesday night, several hours after meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and giving a speech at an energy summit in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, WSJ reports.
Barkindo, 63, was expected to retire at the end of July from a six-year tenure as the top official of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He was widely known for crafting a 2016 agreement that included heavyweight producers, like Russia, into the group known as OPEC+.
"We lost our esteemed Dr. Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo," Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) CEO Mele Kyari tweeted. The death is a "great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, the OPEC, and the global energy community," Kyari added.
We lost our esteemed Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo. 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.— Mele Kyari (@MKKyari) July 6, 2022
During his speech in Abuja, the Nigerian native said the oil and gas industry is currently "under siege" and suffering from severe underinvestment.
"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," Barkindo said hours before his death.
After leaving OPEC, Barkindo was set to join the US think tank the Atlantic Council as a distinguished fellow in the Global Energy Center. His term as OPEC secretariat expired on July 31, and he will be replaced by Kuwait's Haitham Al-Ghais.
"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.
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.— OPEC (@OPECSecretariat) July 6, 2022