From Uche Usim, Abuja
The new Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Haitham Al Ghais of Kuwait, has assumed duties with assurances of to continuing with the legacies and policies of his predecessor, late Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo.
Al Ghais’ appointment, which followed a unanimous acclamation by all members of the 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.
Shortly after the assumption of office, Al Ghais, who interacted with some Nigerian journalists during a virtual media briefing monitored from Abuja on Monday, commended his predecessor for his efforts to achieve balance and stability in loop the 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.
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 hinted at 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 its 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 organisation with joint efforts and joint objectives and a 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. A 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 organisations 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 to 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.