Meet OPEC's Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: May 28, 2018; 15:30 ♦ (Vindobona)

HE Mr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo is the current Secretary General of OPEC. He recently received a prestigious Energy Award for Lifetime Achievement for helping to stabilize the oil price again. He also gave an insight into how OPEC has regained its former strength under his guidance.

The Nigerian HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo (محمد باركيندو) is the current OPEC Secretary General since August 1, 2016. / Picture: © OPEC - Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries

His Excellency Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo of Nigeria assumed office on August 1, 2016 in his role as Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at the OPEC Secretariat. Mr. Barkindo was officially appointed to the post for a three-year term.

Previously in 2006 he served as OPEC's Acting Secretary General and chaired the ECB - Economic Commission Board during the period 1993-2008. He also led the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation during 2009-2010.

Receiving the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Energy Award for Lifetime Achievement

Recently he was presented with the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Energy Award for Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of OPEC, at a ceremony in Doha, Qatar. The Award was a recognition of the role the Secretary General played in the adoption of the ‘Declaration of Cooperation,’ which has had a transformative impact on the global oil industry. 

“I am receiving this prestigious award on behalf of OPEC who together with our non OPEC partners have joined hands to assist the oil industry restore stability to the markets through the historic “Declaration of Cooperation,” after the longest and most destructive oil cycle in history” he said.

Oil price stability thanks to the OPEC Declaration of Cooperation

Mr. Barkindo recently at the 22nd International Exhibition & Conference "Oil & Gas Uzbekistan (OGU)", in Tashkent gave an insight into how OPEC has regained stability under his leadership.

"OPEC, in cooperation with a group of 10 other non-OPEC producers, held extensive consultations in the latter half of 2016. This effort eventually achieved an historic decision in December 2016 of voluntary adjustments under the name of the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’. We have now been implementing this decision for the past 17 months with visible positive outcomes that have been widely acclaimed around the world.

The success of this Declaration has been undeniable with conformity rates reaching impressive levels throughout 2017, rising to well above 130% in recent months. In March, it reached a new record of 149%.

An additional six producers – including Uzbekistan – have provided further impetus to our efforts by declaring their solidarity with the Declaration.

In terms of the short-term impact on the growing stock overhang, the achievements have been significant, with the collective efforts of the producers involved continuing to yield positive results. OECD commercial stock levels have been adjusted from a peak of 3.12 billion barrels in July 2016 to 2.83 billion barrels in March 2018, corresponding to a drop of 300 million barrels, and the stock overhang has been reduced by 400 million barrels.

At the same time, we are seeing robust demand growth, which is forecast at around 1.65 mb/d in 2018. This, in turn, is supported by a healthy global economic outlook, with GDP growth expected at around 3.8% for this year. We also witnessed prices rebound from a low of below $30/b in January 2016 to recently reach the highest levels we have seen since November 2014.

According to OPEC’s most recent World Oil Outlook (WOO), the majority of the energy demand growth in the 2015-2040 period comes from non-OECD countries with around 29 mboe/d, while some 5 mboe/d is located in the mature markets of OECD countries.

Long-term oil demand is expected to increase by 15.8 mb/d, rising from 95.4 mb/d in 2016 to 111.1 mb/d in 2040. In the long term, more than half of the oil demand growth is expected to be satisfied by light products. Separately, the demand for middle distillates is anticipated to increase by 6.8 mb/d during the forecast period.

One of the important lessons learned from the most recent and perhaps worst prolonged oil market downturn in history is this: We must always be vigilant of market signs and indicators; and that we must always have the mid and long term in mind as we make our short-term calculations and decisions. Recognizing that something needed to be done in direct response to this recent market downturn was a positive, constructive response by responsible global producers.

Another lesson, however, is that we can and should no longer act in isolation. The complexity and interrelated nature of markets and economies today requires concerted efforts to ‘not go it alone’ and to instead seek ways to work together in common cause. Collective problems require collective responses – and this is something that the international community continues to learn."


An oil technocrat and veteran of OPEC, Mr. Barkindo brings with him a experience in the oil and gas industry, both in Nigeria and internationally.

From 2009 to 2010, he was Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Previous to that, he served as Deputy Managing Director of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, a joint venture between NNPC, Shell, Total and Eni. Earlier in his career, he was Special Assistant to former Minister of Petroleum Resources and OPEC Secretary General, HE Dr. Rilwanu Lukman.

Mr. Barkindo also worked in several key roles at OPEC between 1986 and 2010. In 1986, he was appointed to Nigeria’s delegation to OPEC, and from 1993 to 2008, served as Nigeria’s National Representative on the Organization’s Economic Commission Board. In 2006, he served as Acting Secretary General of OPEC, and represented Nigeria on OPEC’s Board of Governors from 2009 to 2010.

He has also helped produce the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto protocol as the leader of Nigeria’s technical delegation to the UN negotiations since 1991. He also served as Vice President of COP15 in 2010, when he chaired the opening session in Copenhagen attended by more than 100 heads of state and government. He is the longest serving member of the country’s delegation to the UNFCCC. He also served as Chairman of the OPEC Task Force of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development for the 15th session.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Mr Barkindo went on to achieve a postgraduate diploma in petroleum economics and management from the College of Petroleum Studies at Oxford University and a master’s degree in business administration from Southeastern University in Washington, DC.

He is also a holder of an Honorable Doctorate Degree in Science from Modibbo Adama, Federal University of Technology, Yola, Nigeria.

He is a fellow member of various international petroleum institutions such as the Institute of Petroleum, London.

Curriculum Vitae:
Date of Birth: 20 April 1959 in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria
1981 BSc (Hons) in Political Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria
1988 Post Graduate Diploma in Petroleum Economics, Oxford, United Kingdom
1991 MBA in Finance and Banking, Washington University, United States
2013–16 Fellow, George Mason University, Fairfax VA, US
Career History:
1982-85 Worked with Nigerian Mining Corporation, Jos, up to the Level of Principal Administrative Officer, Liaison Office, Lagos
1984-86 Special Assistant to the Minister of Mines, Power and Steel, Lagos
1986-89 Special Assistant to the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Head, Office of the Chairman of the NNPC Board, Lagos
1990 Served (on secondment) as Special Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lagos
From 1992 ... Served in various capacities in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group spanning some 24 years, namely:

- Head, International Investments, Investment Division, NNPC Headquarters (1992)
- Head, International Trade, NNPC London
- President Duke Oil Inc.
- Chairman NAPOIL (1993-94)
- General Manager, NNPC London Office (1993-97)
- Managing Director/Chief Executive, HYSON/CALSON - an international trading arm of the NNPC (1998-2003)
- Group General Manager Investments, NNPC Headquarters (2003-04)
- Deputy Managing Director/Chief Executive, NLNG (2005)
- In 2007, elevated to the office of Coordinator Special Projects, NNPC
- Between 2007 and 2009, oversaw all Federal Government projects vested in the NNPC as Coordinator
- Participated as a member of the Oil and Gas Industry Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC) that produced the original draft Petroleum Industrial Bill (2008)
- Led the Transformation Programme of the NNPC as enshrined in the Oil and Gas Industry Reform Implementation Committee Report (2008)
- Between January 2009 and April 2010, served as Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC
- Special Assistant to the Minister of Petroleum and Energy (at various times)
- Served on several Boards of NNPC investee companies, such as banks, oil service companies, international trading companies etc.
2014-16 Fellowship Programme at George Mason University, Fairfax VA, USA, undertaking research in the field of Energy, Climate Change and Sustainable Development
OPEC Positions Held:
1986-2010 Nigerian Delegate to OPEC Ministerial Conferences
1993-2008 Served as Nigeria’s National Representative on OPEC’s Economic Commission Board (ECB)
Jan-Dec 2006 Served as Acting for the OPEC Secretary General, Chaired ECB
2009-10 Nigeria’s Governor for OPEC / Served as Adhoc OPEC Governor at various times
Hon Doctorate Degree in Science (Honoris Causa), Modibbo Adama, Federal University of Technology, Yola
Served as Chairman of the OPEC Task Force of the 15th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
Spearheaded OPEC/European Union dialogue on Energy Markets, Taxation and Environment
An architect of the first Long Term Strategy (LTS) at OPEC
Founder delegate to the formation of the African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA) in Algiers, Algeria, in 1986. Delegate to APPA Ministerial Conferences from 1987 to 2010
Pioneer member of the International Energy Forum (IEF), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Has helped strengthen and consolidate OPEC/non-OPEC cooperation and dialogue
Climate Change:
Led Nigeria’s technical delegations to the climate change negotiations since their inception in 1991 that produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC
Only Nigerian delegate to attend all 15 Conferences of the Parties to the UNFCCC from COP1 in Berlin 1995 to COP15 in Copenhagen 2010
In 2002, served as Coordinator, Group of 77 and China at UNFCCC
Elected Vice-President of the Conference of the Parties at COP13 of the UNFCCC in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007
Re-elected Vice-President at COP14 in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008
Re-elected Vice-President at COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009
Hobbies: Reading, charity work, the environment, soccer
Family Status: Married, with children