OPEC’s late Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo died July 5, 2022 in Abuja.

By Africa Bazaar Staff Writer

July 7, 2022

The sudden death of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries late Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo has left everyone who knew him, professionally and personally, incredulous and trying to make sense of the circumstances that could have led to his death, including members of the influential oil organization that he served for over 40 years.

Those who saw the 63 year-old Nigerian before his death said he looked like a hale, healthy and wellbeing man. He died the night of July 5 at his home in Abuja.

As they say, appearance can be deceiving at times. 

While some medical experts have unofficially ascribed his death to a sudden cardiac arrest, others say it might have been caused by Covid-19, given the increasing rates of new variants globally. On the other hand, outside of the medical fields, people are urging the Nigerian government for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death as well as using the news to raise public awareness about cardiovascular disease and risk factors associated with it.

“This tragedy is a shock to the OPEC family,” the organization said in a released statement. “His passing is a profound loss to the entire OPEC family, the oil industry and the international community. OPEC extends its deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and his home country [and] express our sorrow and deep gratitude for the over 40 years of selfless service that he gave to OPEC. His dedication and leadership will inspire OPEC for many years to come.”

The late Secretary General recently announced during a meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock palace hour before his death that his six-year tenure as the head of OPEC was coming to an end.

Barkindo was beloved at OPEC and beyond. Before his death, he attended and delivered a keynote speech at Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on the important role that the oil industry plays in global economic development and the urgent need to ensure predictable investment in the industry.

In his speech, he underscored that investment “the lifeblood of the oil industry”—is essential to “develop new technologies, strengthen human capacity and remain leaders in innovation” to ensure that the world’s growing need for energy is met. 

“If our NOCs are to continue to innovate and flourish, it is of utmost importance that they have predictable and unfettered access to investment capital,” said Barkindo. “Regular Investment at adequate levels is the lifeblood of our industry. It is essential if we are to develop new technologies, strengthen our human capacity and remain leaders in innovation so that we can do our part to meet the world’s growing need for energy, shrink our overall environmental footprint, and expand access to underserved communities.”

The late Secretary General also noted that the energy transition must be addressed through a compressive approach based on data and driven by science, stressing the importance of cooperation and multilateralism to address climate challenge and energy poverty.

COP27, which will take place in Egypt later this year, offers a prime opportunity for developing nations, including those producing oil and gas, to make our voices heard. This is a chance to return to a balanced and holistic process to address critical issues such as adaptation, mitigation and the means of implementation, especially climate finance and technology,” Barkindo stressed in his remarks. “Furthermore, COP27 provides a platform to reaffirm the importance of multilateralism and mutual respect among nations.”

He urged developed countries and the G7 members to not pay lip services in recognizing the need for continued investment in fossil fuels to help meet the world’s energy needs, “it is imperative that they translate these words into policy actions that affirm the importance of a broad portfolio of energy options, including oil and gas, and support an investment climate that makes this possible,” he stated.

The African Development Bank Group’s President Akinwumi A. Adesina on Saturday issued a statement on twitter regarding the news of Barkindo’s death “I am saddened by the passing away of Mohammed Barkindo, the secretary general of OPEC. A huge loss to OPEC. A huge loss to Nigeria. Thank you for your immense contributions. My condolences to his family, OPEC and the federal republic of Nigeria.”

OPEC’s incoming Secretary General Haitham Al-Ghais also extends his deepest condolences on the tragic passing of OPEC secretary general to his family, friends, colleagues, loved ones. “Mr. Barkindo has led the organization during extremely turbulent times for the global oil market, and his remarkable role and valuable contributions, along with our organization’s long history of dialogue and cooperation put us in a strong position to continue supporting stability and balance in the global market.”