A former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Mohammed Barkindo, has emerged as the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Two OPEC delegates said Nigerian candidate Barkindo was chosen to be OPEC’s new secretary-general on Thursday in Vienna at the group’s 169th conference, Reuters reported.
Barkindo, who was recently nominated by the Federal Government for the position, led the NNPC from 2009 to 2010 and served as acting secretary-general of OPEC in 2006, as well as representing Nigeria at the group.
OPEC has been looking for a replacement for Libya’s Abdalla El-Badri, who was elected acting secretary-general in December until the end of July after serving full terms.
The 13-member oil cartel has tried unsuccessfully for more than three years to find a replacement for the current secretary-general, who was due to stand down in 2012 after serving two terms in the role. At OPEC’s last meeting in December, El-Badri’s term was extended until July.
Barkindo has been a key face of the Nigerian oil industry for the past decade, during which various governments tried and effectively failed to reform national oil company NNPC
Mohammed Barkindo is seen as a rare compromise candidate to lead the group amid rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran .
Today, Nigeria has alongside Venezuela become one of the main victims of oil’s price collapse, with the country’s output declining sharply due to militant attacks on pipelines and infrastructure.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has since 2012 been looking for a replacement for Libya’s Abdullah al-Badri, who was elected acting secretary-general in December until the end of July after serving full terms.
However, Barkindo’s appointment was by no means certain and Badri’s tenure could yet be extended by another six months, some sources said.
Rivalries between OPEC heavyweights Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq have so far prevented the group from choosing candidates proposed by those countries.
Barkindo led the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from 2009 to 2010 and served as acting secretary-general of OPEC in 2006 after the original Nigerian nominee, junior oil minister Edmund Daukouro, took over the rotating OPEC presidency.
Barkindo also served on OPEC’s economic commission and held various high-ranking positions during a career at NNPC that spanned over two decades.
He was deputy managing director of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company, a joint venture between NNPC, Shell Gas BV, Total and Eni.
He was also head of NNPC’s London office, managing director of NNPC’s oil and gas trading division, and an NNPC group executive director.
“He’s a reasonably safe pair of hands and good for a more administrative role like secretary-general. He also knows the ropes at OPEC from when he was Lukman’s (right-hand man),” a senior industry source with close ties to Nigeria said.
Rilwanu Lukman was influential in Nigeria’s oil industry for many years. He served as oil minister during military rule and later as secretary-general to OPEC and special adviser on oil to former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Don’t expect any fireworks, either positive or negative,” the industry source said.