Friday, June 3, 2016

Nigerian Mohammed Barkindo appointed Opec secretary-general

The Opec oil cartel said on Thursday that it had appointed Nigeria’s Mohammed Barkindo as its new secretary-general.

Barkindo, former head of Nigerian National Petroleum, will replace Libyan Abdalla El-Badri who has held the position since 2007.

El-Badri was due to step down in 2012, but has stayed in place because Opec has been unable to agree on a successor. Other candidates were Ali Rodriguez Araque, previously secretary-general in 2001-2002, and Mahendra Siregar of Indonesia.

"We’ve finally selected the secretary-general, which is good. He’s highly respected and qualified," said Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khaled al-Falih.

Mohammed Barkindo, who was acting head of Opec in 2006, met ministers from Algeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia in Vienna this week to garner support for his candidacy, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.

Indonesia’s Siregar — a former deputy finance minister described by UAE Oil MinisterSuhail Al Mazrouei as the only other credible candidate for the post — did not make a public appearance in Vienna on Wednesday.

Angola, the only other member of Opec in sub-Saharan African, supported Barkindo, Minister of Petroleum José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos told reporters on Wednesday.

The Nigerian candidate also met with Iraq and Iran prior to Thursday’s Opec meeting, according to a person familiar with the matter.

El-Badri was originally due to step down in 2012, after serving the maximum two terms permitted by Opec’s regulations.

Squabbling members were not able to agree on a replacement, as political rivals Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq blocked each other’s applicants, and El-Badri’s tenure was extended at successive meetings.

At Opec’s last meeting in December, the feud over the group’s role in managing oil markets spilled over into the selection of its most senior official.

Venezuela, Algeria, Iran and Ecuador — frustrated at their inability to press Saudi Arabia into cutting production — insisted that El-Badri’s term should not be extended another year. A compromise was reached, with the extension limited to July, and his title modified to acting secretary-general.

If no unanimous decision is reached to choose a new secretary-general, the position "shall be appointed on a rotational basis for a term of two years", according to article 28 of Opec’s statute.

This is what happened for much of the decade before El-Badri’s appointment, with the position filled by representatives from countries holding Opec’s presidency — a largely ceremonial role that is transferred alphabetically between members.

Barkindo spent more than 23 years at Nigerian National Petroleum, where he served in various capacities including deputy MD of Nigeria LNG, head of the international trading unit and manager of the state-run company’s London office. He also served for 15 years as Nigeria’s national representative to Opec. In January 2009, he was appointed group MD of Nigerian National Petroleum, only to be removed from the post a little more than a year later by then-president Goodluck Jonathan.

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