20220705 opec sec general
Late OPEC secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo speaks while addressing delegates at the opening of the Nigeria Oil & Gas 2022 meeting in Abuja, Nigeria Image Credit: Reuters

OPEC secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo, an oil industry veteran who steered the group through the creation of the OPEC+ alliance, has died in his native Nigeria, according to officials.

Barkindo, 63, was in the final weeks of his six-year tenure as the top diplomat at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, where he headed its Vienna-based secretariat. He had returned to Abuja in preparation for a post-OPEC career.

Barkindo oversaw one of the most turbulent periods in the organization's history, beginning with the creation of the OPEC+ coalition just months after his appointment in summer 2016. That saw the group enter into a once-unthinkable partnership with non-members such as Russia. Barkindo engaged in a flurry of shuttle diplomacy to bring the oil producers together, personally meeting leaders including Russia's Vladimir Putin.

His term spanned a series of production cuts intended to keep global oil markets in balance, culminating in the unprecedented reductions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. His successor, Haitham Al-Ghais of Kuwait, was already due to assume the position from the beginning of next month.