Secretary General: OPEC ‘Stands Ready’ to Address Common Challenges

In an interview with Africa Oil & Power, H.E. Mohammed Barkindo, Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries, talks about new members Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. This interview is the last article in a three-part series. 

Africa has enormous proven resources, but it trails other parts of the world in attracting exploration investment. Do you think countries should improve fiscal terms to attract more FDI?

Fiscal terms are a sovereign decision of a given country and not something that OPEC, as an inter-governmental organization, can comment on specifically. What I can say is that I am sure every producer looks at their fiscal terms, taking into account a variety of issues, as a means to attract the necessary investment to their petroleum industry.

At 200,000 bpd, Gabon’s oil output is half what it was 20 years ago. How can the country encourage a reversal of production declines?

OPEC can provide support and guidance as a country looks to develop or redevelop their oil industry, but again, the particulars are a sovereign decision for Gabon and not for OPEC to comment on.

I would say that Gabon is a valued and important Member of the OPEC family. I met with Gabon’s President, HE Ali Bongo Ondimba, and the country’s Minister of Petroleum and Hydrocarbons, HE Pascal Houangni Ambouroue and other Gabonese officials, when I visited Gabon in July of last year. The warm and friendly dynamic which was apparent at these meetings is testimony to the enormous and invaluable contribution Gabon makes to OPEC. OPEC stands ready to further deepen technical cooperation and facilitate closer interaction among its Member Countries in addressing common challenges.

Equatorial Guinea is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year since independence. Can you discuss the role that oil has played in shaping its development?

The first thing I would like to say is that I congratulate Equatorial Guinea most heartily on the 50th anniversary of its independence, which will be celebrated on 12 October this year. This is a tremendous milestone and a wonderful source of pride for the nation.

The admission of Equatorial Guinea to OPEC was a tremendous boon for our Organization and we are extremely proud to have Equatorial Guinea as a Member. The fact that they moved from being one of the non-OPEC participating countries when the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ was signed on 10 December 2016 to a full member, speaks volumes of the country’s commitment to oil market stability in the interests of producers and consumers alike.

To answer the second part of the question — there is an extremely important point I would like to make here, which is relevant in broader terms, not just for Equatorial Guinea. Oil has played a critical role in the development of most countries throughout the world, not just in Africa. Indeed, it has fueled our modern civilization. It impacts our daily life in literally thousands of ways. I hope all stakeholders in the international energy community can work together to harness oil’s potential to continue on the path of sustainable development.

Equatorial Guinea is a small country but has a big voice in the African energy dialogue. How instrumental has it been in the OPEC discussion on petroleum markets?

Equatorial Guinea signed the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ as a non-OPEC producing country on 10 December 2016. It subsequently joined us a full member during the 172nd Meeting of the OPEC Conference on 25 May 2017. Throughout the entire process, Equatorial Guinea has been a strong advocate of international cooperation in working to achieve a level of oil market stability which is in the interests of producers, consumers and the global economy.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to convey my appreciation to the Equatorial Guinean leadership for their critical role in the adoption and ongoing implementation of the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’, when I visited the country last July. I met with the President of Equatorial Guinea, HE Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo; the Prime Minister, HE Francisco Pascual Eyegue Obama Asue; and the Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy, HE Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima in the city of Djibloho.

I have been impressed by the depth of commitment of Equatorial Guinea to our ongoing efforts to rebalance the market. The country has also worked with the organs of OPEC, our decision-making apparatus, with dedication and passion. Equatorial Guinea’s active role and engagement in the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ has been exemplary for many producing countries in Africa, and beyond.

H.E. Mohammed Barkindo will be bestowed with the “Africa Oil Man of the Year” award during the Africa Oil & Power conference, to be hosted September 5-7, 2018 in Cape Town. He will also present the keynote address during the annual conference. You can read more about his attendance and award here

H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC

H.E. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo has over 30 years experience in the politics of energy. Mr. Barkindo was appointed a three-year term as Secretary General of OPEC in August 2016. As Secretary General, Mr. Barkindo administers the affairs of the organization in accordance with the directions of the Board of Governors. Prior to his appointment, he was the acting Secretary General of OPEC in 2006. He represented Nigeria on OPEC’s Economic Commission Board, and was Group Managing Director and CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Mr. Barkindo has also led Nigeria’s technical delegation to the UN climate change negotiations since 1991. As Secretary General, H.E. Barkindo has guided OPEC through one of its most turbulent periods, with a sustained oil price decline and a loss in global market share. He is credited with restoring market stability on a global scale through the landmark deal between OPEC and non-OPEC members to cut oil production. H.E Mohammed Sanusi Barking holds a BSc (Hons) in Political Science from the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, a Post Graduate Diploma in Petroleum Economics from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and an MBA in Finance and Banking from Washington University in the United States and an Honorary Doctorate in Science from the Federal University of Technology in Nigeria.