Nigeria Nominates Barkindo to Replace El-Badri as OPEC Chief

Mohammed Barkindo worked as OPEC’s acting secretary general a decade ago and led the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. from 2009 to 2010. Photo: Bloomberg News

Nigeria has nominated the former chief of its state oil company to be the next secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, delegates with the group said, potentially ending a deadlock over the cartel’s leadership.

The nomination of Mohammed Barkindo was put forward in recent days by Nigeria to replace Abdalla Salem el-Badri as OPEC’s secretary general, the delegates said. Mr. Badri has led OPEC for over nine years and was supposed to leave at the end of 2012, but the cartel couldn’t reach a consensus on a replacement.

The nomination comes at a critical time for OPEC, which is grappling with divisions among its 13 member nations over how to deal with the collapse in oil prices. Some members like Venezuela want OPEC members to cut oil production to reduce supply and raise prices, while others like Saudi Arabia want to let market forces work mostly on their own.

Mr. Barkindo worked as OPEC’s acting secretary general a decade ago. He led the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. from 2009 to 2010. He didn’t return messages seeking comment.

OPEC has been trying to replace Mr. Badri since 2012, but members failed to reach a consensus over whether a national from Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Iran should head the organization. Members decide on the position at ministerial meetings, with the next one scheduled on June 2 in Vienna.

OPEC delegates have previously said Nigeria or Angola are the most likely countries to produce the cartel’s leader because they are seen as neutral in the group’s geopolitical disagreements.

The secretary general isn’t a decision maker at OPEC like Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi, for instance. But Mr. Badri has played a key role in brokering agreements and bridging differences between the cartel’s fractious members on production policies.

OPEC’s next challenge is implementing production limits at meeting with nonmembers such as Russia and Bahrain in Qatar on April 17. Iran, a large OPEC producer ramping up its production after the end of Western sanctions, doesn’t plan to join the output freeze.

CREDITS: This article is culled from the Wall Street Journal, and is written by Benoit Faucon at benoit.faucon@wsj.com

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Iheanyi Igboko is a social advocate, educator and journalist/blogger; working actively in the education and human development sector. He is passionate about promoting access to quality education, increasing youth active participation and engagement, and empowering young people to develop solutions to their problems. He craves unending hopes of a better Nigeria that will meet the hopes and aspirations of her citizens; and committed to building a nation that will seamlessly harness and develop her numerous human and capital potentials.

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