OPEC Appoints Kuwait’s Haitham Al-Ghais as New Secretary-General

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By Chibisi Ohakah Abuja

Kuwait’s Haitham Al-Ghais, yesterday emerged the incoming secretary general of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Orient Energy Review (OER) predicted as much yesterday that Al-Ghais who is currently the deputy managing director for international marketing at Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), stood the chance of clinching the post, coming in as sole candidate.

He was named as the next secretary-general at a Special Meeting of the Conference of OPEC held via videoconference on Monday, January 3. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of its President, HE Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, who is Congo’s minister of hydrocarbons and head of its delegation.

In a statement yesterday, the Conference said it decided by acclamation to appoint him as secretary-general of the Organization, with effect from August 1, 2022, for a period of three years, in accordance with Article 28 of the OPEC Statute.

Mr. Al-Ghais, is described as a veteran of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and Kuwait’s OPEC Governor from 2017 to June 2021. He Chaired the Joint Committee (JTC) of the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC) in 2017 and subsequently served as a Member of the JTC until June 2021.

In the statement, the Conference expressed appreciation to the outgoing Nigerian born OPEC secretary general, HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo for his leadership during his two-term tenure beginning on August 1, 2016 and ending on 31 July 2022.

A long-serving veteran of ’s oil industry and OPEC, Mr. Barkindo has been instrumental in expanding OPEC’s historical efforts to support sustainable oil market stability through enhanced dialogue and cooperation with many energy stakeholders.

These efforts are widely credited with helping to stabilize the global oil market since the unprecedented market downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and providing a platform for recovery.

Before being appointed Secretary-General, Mr. Barkindo held a number of key roles at OPEC between 1986 and 2010, including as Acting Secretary General in 2006. He is known internationally for helping to produce the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto protocol as the leader of ’s delegation to the negotiations in 1991.

He has remained a key contributor to the UNFCCC process, including most recently at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Glasgow in October and November 2021.

In a congratulatory letter to Al-Ghais, Barkindo wrote: “It is fully deserved and recognition of your extremely positive standing within the OPEC community as a committed, knowledgeable and extremely able technocrat who can lead the Organization in the years to come.

“It has been the honour of a lifetime to lead OPEC since August 2016, helping bring together the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’, the ‘Charter of Cooperation’, and navigate the Organization past the impacts of the industry downturn of 2014-2016 and the massive repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

“With your appointment, this vital International Organization for our Member Countries, as well as the global oil market, is in very capable hands. From my time working collaboratively with you as Kuwait’s OPEC Governor, I know you have a great understanding of the organs and internal workings of the Organization.

“This will stand you in good stead and will be a great knowledge platform for when you assume the secretary general’s responsibilities. However, I personally recall the challenges of those first few and the benefits of advice and guidance I accrued from previous secretaries general, as well as past and active ministers, and with this in mind, I stand ready to be of any help to you as and when necessary.”

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