DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (TBEN) – A veteran of Kuwait’s national oil company took over as secretary general of the OPEC oil cartel on Monday, just three weeks after his Nigerian predecessor died, just hours after giving a speech in defense of the energy industry.
Haitham al-Ghais was elected as the new Secretary General in January and it was announced that he would take up the position on August 1.
Al-Ghais will serve a three-year term to succeed Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, who died last month at the age of 63 in his native Nigeria. Al-Ghais is a veteran of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation who advised six Kuwaiti oil ministers.
He is well known at OPEC as he has chaired technical meetings of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, to curtail production to prevent oil prices from plummeting during the coronavirus pandemic. . The production limits of the agreement expire at the end of this month.
The group, known as OPEC+, will meet on Wednesday to discuss future production quotas.
US and European countries have pressured OPEC producers, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to use what is left of their spare capacity to pump more oil in the hopes that this can lower prices.
A statement from Vienna-based OPEC said al-Ghais “brings a great wealth of experience from both his diplomatic background and his extensive experience in the energy and oil sectors.”
“I look forward to working with all of our member countries and our many partners around the world to ensure a sustainable and inclusive energy future that leaves no one behind,” he said.
OPEC policy is expected to remain unaffected by his appointment. His comments on an inclusive energy transition reflect Barkindo’s persistent defense of the role of oil and gas amid global efforts to tackle climate change and move to cleaner energy sources.
Barkindo had used his platform to advocate for a greater role for the energy industry in energy transition talks. This placed him firmly on the side of fossil fuel producers who say more investment in oil and gas is needed until the world can run on alternative forms of energy.
However, scientists and independent researchers say investments in oil and gas must be halted and diverted to cleaner forms of energy to stand a chance of preventing global warming from reaching dangerous levels.