‘How Nigeria is positioned to influence global oil market’
The emergence of Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo as the Secretary-General of the OPEC appears to have established the relevance of shuttle diplomacy of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu.
The Guardian recently gathered that the OPEC’s top position was ceded for Nigeria after months of negotiations with key members of the oil exporting cartel during the shuttle diplomacy embarked upon by Kachikwu.
Barkindo had been elected unopposed at 169th ordinary meeting of the cartel, as he is expected to take over from the outgoing Secretary General, Abdallah Salem El-Badri of Libya for a three-year tenure with effect from August 1st 2016.
NNPC source told The Guardian that Kachikwu had since assumption of office been nursing the ambition of ceding the position for Nigeria, after the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alisson-Madueke had served in capacity of OPEC president.
“Before he was confirmed minister of state for petroleum in November 2015, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, already had a good grasp of the global politics of oil, having effectively combined the roles of the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the minister since August 2015, when he was appointed the boss of the state-run oil company.
“He has shuttled between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, visiting some of these countries twice each to canvass support for Nigeria’s bid to clinch the position of OPEC secretary general, taking into consideration the huge influence of Saudi and its Gulf allies in the politics of the cartel.
“Having recommended Barkindo to President Buhari, he had hit the ground running to galvanise international support for Nigeria’s official candidate.
“The minister presided over the 17th ordinary ministerial meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Tehran, Iran to complete the tenure of Alison-Madueke.
“He also attended the fourth meeting of High Level Ad Hoc Group (HLAHG4) as well as the Executive Board (EB) meeting to discuss internal and procedural issues.
“Following the HLHAG4 and EB, the 17th ordinary ministerial meeting was chaired by the Nigerian minister, while the extraordinary ministerial meeting was presided over by Iran.
“The ordinary ministerial meeting discussed the internal issues on the agenda such as budget and election of secretary general. This also avowed an opportunity to push for the seat,” the source said.
With the strong support of Buhari, Kachikwu not only used his position as the President of the 17th ordinary meeting of the gas exporters to push Nigeria’s agenda but also used the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with other dignitaries on the sidelines of the working sessions, where Nigeria’s agenda was promoted.
Before the 168th (Ordinary) meeting of the OPEC in Vienna last year, Iran had rejected Saudi Arabia’s call to join OPEC production cut.
Iran’s Oil Minister, Bijan Zanganeh, said he was not sure whether his country would bow to pressure to accept production cut just to stabilise the market.
On his plans for OPEC, Kachikwu had promised to do his best to delay Iran’s intended oversupply of crude oil.The group has been looking for a replacement for Libya’s Abdullah al-Badri, who was elected acting secretary-general in December and whose tenure will end in July after serving full terms.
Barkindo is expected to occupy the position for three years in the first instance with effect from August 1st 2016. He is coming to the position with a 23-year career in NNPC and the oil and gas industry.
He was a one-time group managing director of NNPC and had actually served as acting secretary general of OPEC in 2006 and handed over to his predecessor where he served with distinction.
Other positions he has held were: deputy managing director/chief executive of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas: managing director/chief executive, HYSON/CALSON, an international trading arm of NNPC: general manager, NNPC London Office; Head, International Trade, NNPC London Office.
He served for a record 15 years on the OPEC Economic Commission Board as Nigeria’s National Representative. Apart from chairing the OPEC Economic Commission Board, he also chaired the Strategic Production Quota Committee of OPEC.
According to OPEC, the position of secretary-general is the legally authorized representative of the organization and Chief Executive of the Secretariat. In this capacity, he administers the affairs of the organization in accordance with the directions of the Board of Governors.
The secretary-general is assisted in the discharge of his duties by a team of officers and staff including two directors responsible for the research division and support services division, six heads of department, the general legal counsel, head of the office of the secretary-general and the internal auditor who independently ascertains whether the ongoing processes for controlling financial and administrative operations at the secretariat are adequately designed and functioning in an effective manner.