Obituary: Dr Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, An OPEC Leader, Iraq’s Best Friend


The Iraq Energy Institute (IEI), its board, management, and members are profoundly saddened by the tragic news of the sudden passing of OPEC’s outgoing Secretary-General Dr. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo on 5 July 2022. We have lost an esteemed colleague, a great friend, and a supporter of Iraq. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and the country of Nigeria.

Dr. Barkindo was a dedicated leader of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) who’s 40 years of remarkable contributions shall never be forgotten by member states, the energy industry, and the international community at large.

For us at IEI, we were most fortunate to enjoy the friendship and support of Dr. Barkindo. Attending the 6th Iraq Energy Forum on 18-20 June 2022 at the American University of Iraq – Baghdad (AUIB), he said: “Since I attended the first iteration of this event in 2016, this Forum has gone from strength to strength to become an influential event, not only for Iraq but for the entire Middle East region. It continues to attract leading energy figures from across the global industry.”

Dr. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo while receiving IEI’s prestigious Iraq Energy Award in 2022 from IEI Board Vice-Chairman Dr. Adnan al-Janabi
[Photo Credit: Iraq Energy Institute]

Dr. Barkindo was presented IEI’s prestigious Iraq Energy Award for his achievements, dedication to OPEC, and affection for Iraq and its people. Something he was keen to fondly showcase during his many visits to the country by his distinctive wearing of our traditional headdress. During his visit, Dr. Barkindo expressed his wish to maintain his connection to Iraq in his post-OPEC career. IEI was looking forward to welcoming Mr. Barkindo as a member of its board while at AUIB he desired to share his exceptional skill and experience with young Iraqis in the future. Dr. Barkindo’s tenure, while starting at turbulent times for the oil industry, was marked by his excellent efforts to advocate for the resilience of the energy sector for all participants, producers, and consumers – with a strong emphasis on international cooperation. Dr. Barkindo was a true advocate for OPEC’s core beliefs of transparency, equity, and fairness. Upon taking up his first term as Secretary-General in August 2016, his years of diplomatic experience and extraordinary ability to bridge diverse opinions proved most decisive. In a few months, he steered OPEC towards the creation of the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC) on 10 December 2016. Then, his shuttle diplomacy took it farther with the inclusion of non-OPEC oil-producing partners.

Today, what has emerged as the enduring OPEC+ alliance continues to be the stabilizing force in the global oil market and the mechanism by which oil-producing nations put their differences aside and align their economic interests. History will forever record the DoC as the centerpiece of Dr. Barkindo’s legacy.

More admirably, Dr. Barkindo was everyone’s friend. A truly down-to-earth, kind, gentle, and warm man. There is no better testament to his work ethic and commitment than the fact that we lost him just a few hours after the end of his two-term OPEC tenure was celebrated in his home country of Nigeria. Received by HE Muhammadu Buhari, the President said:
“Welcome back home!” Adding: “We are proud of your distinguished achievements at OPEC.”

This morning, President Buhari’s words resonate throughout the industry and beyond.

His last words in Baghdad were: “The unity, peace, stability, economic growth and prosperity of
Iraq and its people are of fundamental importance to OPEC.”

Dr. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo 1959-2022, a leader of OPEC, diplomat extraordinaire and a true friend of Iraq.