The newly appointed secretary-seneral of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Haitham Al Ghais of Kuwait, assumed office yesterday, with a firm commitment to sustain the legacies and policies of his predecessor, late Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo.
Al Ghais appointment, which followed a unanimous acclamation by all members of organisation during a meeting last January, was announced by the OPEC Secretariat earlier on Monday.
Al Ghais was already in the frame to succeed Nigeria’s Barkindo, who died last month in Abuja during a farewell visit prior to his final exit from office.
The OPEC secretary general, who interacted with some Nigerian journalists during a virtual media briefing monitored from Abuja, commended his predecessor for his efforts to achieve balance and stability in loopthe global oil market.
As Secretary General of OPEC, late Barkindo championed the producer-consumer dialogue aimed at establishing a consensus on some of the major issues that concern all parties, namely market stability, security of demand and supply, investment, and sustainable development.
While condoling with Nigeria on Barkindo’s passage, Al Ghais said the former OPEC scribe would be a big loss not only to Nigeria and the oil industry in Africa, but also the entire world.
Recalling the close working and personal relationships he and his family had with Barkindo, the OPEC scribe described his predecessor as “a man who worked for OPEC multilateralism and dialogue among energy stakeholders around the world.”
He expressed the hope that he would be able to build on the many legacies and policies Barkindo built and left behind.
On Nigeria, Al Ghais acknowledged the country’s stature as a key member of OPEC, representing Africa since 1970, and commended her initiative to undertake the construction of a regional gas pipeline that would convey Nigeria’s to Algeria.
He described the project as a significant development aimed at positioning Africa to take advantage of the opportunities in the world’s energy market.
Nigeria, he noted, has always played an active role in the energy sector in Africa, adding that as a key player in the OPEC+ alliance, the country has played a major role in the organization’s effort to achieve balancing of the market
He hinted of his plans to visit Nigeria within the next three months after he has settled down, to discuss with the government opportunities for further enhancement of Nigeria’s activities with OPEC, to focus on the importance of the African continent in the global energy landscape.
“The African continent has over 1.2 billion population, with over 600 people without electricity.
There is an ongoing discussion about energy transition, and the voice of the people needs to be heard and taken into consideration and accounted for.
“In the energy transition, there is no one size fits all solution. Everybody’s views must be presented and everybody must be part of the dialogue, particularly in the African continent.
“There are many challenges to be tackled. OPEC has been there for 62 years since it’s establishment in 1960. With leading members like Nigeria, OPEC will overcome these challenges in future through the cooperation of all member countries,” Al Ghais said.
He described OPEC as an organization with joint efforts and joint objectives and unified spirit, saying he was determined not to move away from what Barkindo did to balance the market and ensure stability.
“In OPEC, the direction is dictated by market conditions, which is what unites OPEC and the wider group of OPEC+, to do whatever is necessary to maintain the market balance. Healthy state of the market, which is a balance between supply and demand, is to the benefit of not only the oil producing, but also the oil consuming countries, and the wider global economy.
“Absolutely, I will maintain this course and direction. It is not only me personally, it is all the organizations within OPEC member countries and the wider alliance of the OPEC+ who are interested in maintaining what late Barkindo embarked on in 2016,” he said.
On OPEC’s support to Nigeria, to enable it realise the ongoing projects that would be needed for the energy transition, the OPEC Secretary General said he would sit with the OPEC member countries, Board of governors, ,Economic Commission Board and put the plans for all the critical issues OPEC has at hand before them, including taking opportunities created by the global energy crisis and energy transition.
He said as the new Secretary General, he would ensure Nigeria, being a key member of OPEC, would ensure OPEC’s voice would continue to be heard loud and clear on energy transition, climate change and other issues, particularly on how energy transition should unfold, in a way that is sustainable, all encompassing and clear.
“No one size fits all. We have to be aware that different people from different parts of the world have different concerns and opinions that must be taken on board,” he said.