TBY talks to Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), on mutual cooperation between the UAE and OPEC and hosting the World Oil Outlook (WOO) launch in Abu Dhabi.

Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo
Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo began his tenure as Secretary General of OPEC on August 1, 2016. In 1986, he was appointed to Nigeria’s delegation to OPEC, and from 1993 to 2008 served as Nigeria’s National Representative on the Organization’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. He was also Group Managing Director and CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He earlier 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, Dr, Rilwanu Lukman KBE.

OPEC's 2016 WOO was launched outside of Vienna for the first time and the UAE was selected. What are the highlights of the mutual cooperation between OPEC and the UAE?

Time proved this decision was the right one. We felt that by attaching the WOO launch this year to a major industry event, in the form of the high-profile ADIPEC, we would get maximum exposure. And we did. It was a resounding success. It was also extremely beneficial for the organization to have such an event in one of its member countries. Over the years, the OPEC Secretariat has forged great links with member states and the UAE has proven to be no exception. With its vibrant economy and fascinating high-tech development, I am certain it will continue in the same vein—as a valued and trusted member of the OPEC family. Our visit to ADIPEC proved to be an excellent opportunity to extend those relations further. In fact, also for the first time, we chose Abu Dhabi as the location to unveil a new Smart App version for OPEC's other flagship publication, the Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB). This was done at a press conference one day before the WOO launch. Significantly, the Smart App's development was achieved through a joint IT project team involving the UAE Energy Ministry and the OPEC Secretariat. It was another example of how OPEC and its member countries are working together to improve ties and ultimately conditions in the global oil sector.

How would you assess the participation of the UAE's national oil companies in the construction of a stable global market?

The UAE has made startling economic and technological progress over the years and stands today as an accomplished and highly respected member of the global community. Through the capable operations of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and its many subsidiaries the country has secured a sound economic footing that will continue to pay dividends going forward. These companies, through the application of best practices, continue to forge agreements with international oil concerns that result in the optimum management of the UAE's petroleum resources. Over the years, these national entities have gained considerable experience and knowledge of the industry and the authoritative and responsible way they conduct themselves and do business with the outside world has a direct bearing on the stability of the oil market. Consumers need to know that the oil and gas they require for their domestic needs will always be available and, in the UAE, as well as other OPEC producers, security of supply is assured. And that is ultimately down to such companies as ADNOC and the UAE's other energy firms. In the future, the UAE and OPEC member countries in general will be required to supply even more oil to global markets, so it is indeed reassuring for consumers to know that ultimately they can always rely on these ever-evolving national oil companies for their needs to be met.

With the current plans of the UAE government to reduce its dependency levels towards the oil industry below 50%, how will this transform the dynamics between other OPEC members and the UAE?

The countries that make up this organization have reached a superior level of understanding, having spent over half a century working together on attaining a set of goals that are common to all of them. Over this long period, there have been many ups and downs, but through it all members have shown a sense of unity. What is striking is the great understanding they display of each other's needs and situations, an approach that has shone through in the many informed decisions OPEC has taken over the decades. There is no doubt in my mind that this family camaraderie has enabled the organization to remain relevant and effective on the world stage and an essential element in the welfare of the global economy.