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The funeral sadness that pervaded the atmosphere around the events hall of the International Conference Center, Abuja following the death of Muhammed Barkindo, Secretary-General of OPEC, was palpable from organisers to attendees as many continued to wish the news was untrue.

The Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference (NOG) 2022 was billed to start by 10:00 am but fifteen minutes past the time it was billed to start, the hall was unusually scanty. The animated conversations and laughter that usually pervade the atmosphere were missing, it was like air, life and energy has been drained out of the room.

Celebrated on Tuesday and mourned on Wednesday, Muhammed Barkindo’s death has thrown the energy world into a tailspin. Media organisations often have prepared obituaries for world leaders advancing in age, but no one had any ready for Barkindo. He was only 63.

Geoff Dickinson, CEO of dmg events, the organisers of NOG expressed the organisation’s sympathies and condoled with his family. Udi Umuso, heading the local organising team in Nigeria broke into tears while paying his respects.

A minute of silence was called to honour him, and many sat down after it was done like a minute wasn’t enough to capture the essence of the man.

Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo was born in Yola, Adamawa State on the 20th of April 1959 and was appointed secretary of general of OPEC in August 2016.

He held several key roles at OPEC. In 1986, he was appointed to Nigeria’s delegation to OPEC, and from 1993 to 2008, served as Nigeria’s National Representative on the Organisation’s Economic Commission Board. In 2006, he was Acting OPEC Secretary-General and represented Nigeria on OPEC’s Board of Governors from 2009 to 2010.

From 2009 to 2010, he was Group Managing Director and CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Previous to that, he served as Deputy Managing Director of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas. Earlier in his career, he was Special Assistant to former Minister of Petroleum Resources and OPEC Secretary-General, Rilwanu Lukman KBE.

Barkindo has also been the leader of Nigeria’s technical delegation to the UN climate change negotiations since 1991. He served as Chair of the Group of 77 and China at the UNFCCC and was elected to serve three terms as Vice President of the Conference of the Parties – COP13 (Bali, Indonesia), COP14 (Poznan, Poland), and COP15 (Copenhagen, Denmark), where he chaired the opening session.

The impact he has had on the global energy industry is undeniable. In life, a somber mood is thrown across the energy landscape upon his death. Many were visibly shaken, speakers prefaced their presentation with a deep sigh, and others like Funmi Marinho, Principal Consultant at Levmora Services Limited, who was billed to moderate a panel session, were too heartbroken to attend.

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