31 March 2016, Lagos – The Federal Government has nominated a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mohammed Barkindo, for the position of the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, come July 2016.
Barkindo had previously served as Acting Secretary-General of OPEC in 2006, and was GMD of the NNPC from 2009 to 2010.
According to reports, yesterday, a Federal Government official and some delegates of OPEC, who confirmed the development stated that the nomination of Barkindo by the Federal Government has the potential of ending the deadlock over OPEC’s leadership.
The delegates said the nomination of Barkindo was put forward in recent days by Nigeria to replace Abdalla Salem el-Badri as OPEC’s secretary general.
“We are putting Barkindo forward for the job of OPEC secretary general because he has the required qualification and experience,” the Federal Government official who chose not to be named said.
Badri has been OPEC’s Secretary-General for over nine years and was supposed to leave at the end of 2012, but his tenure was extended due to the fact that member countries of OPEC could not reach a consensus on his replacement.
The disagreement, according to report was over whether a national from Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Iran should head the organisation.
It was stated that members normally decide on the position at ministerial meetings, with the next one scheduled on June 2 in Vienna.
Reports said OPEC delegates had previously said Nigeria or Angola are the most likely countries to produce the cartel’s leader because they are seen as neutral in the group’s geopolitical disagreements.
According to the reports, the secretary general isn’t a decision maker at OPEC like Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi, for instance, but Badri had played a key role in brokering agreements and bridging differences between the cartel’s fractious members on production policies.
OPEC’s next challenge is implementing production limits at meeting with nonmembers such as Russia and Bahrain in Qatar on April 17.
Iran, a large OPEC producer ramping up its production after the end of Western sanctions, doesn’t plan to join the output freeze.
The nomination comes at a critical time for OPEC, which is grappling with divisions among its 13 member nations over how to deal with the collapse in oil prices.
Some members like Venezuela want OPEC members to cut oil production to reduce supply and raise prices, while others like Saudi Arabia want to let market forces work mostly on their own.