The Secretary General of the OPEC oil cartel, Nigeria's Mohammad Barkindo, has died unexpectedly at the age of 63, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said on Wednesday.
"We lost our esteemed Dr (Mohammad) Sanusi Barkindo. He died at about 11:00 pm yesterday 5th July 2022," NNPC's chief executive Mele Kyari tweeted, without providing any further details about the circumstances of Barkindo's death.
"This tragedy is a shock to the OPEC Family," the Vienna-based Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries tweeted.
"We express our sorrow and deep gratitude for the over 40 years of selfless service that... Barkindo gave to OPEC. His dedication and leadership will inspire OPEC for many years to come."
Only a few hours earlier, Barkindo had met Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, where Buhari praised Barkindo's "distinguished achievements at OPEC.
"You were able to successfully navigate the organisation through turbulent challenges," the president said.
Barkindo had headed OPEC since 2016 and was scheduled to be replaced by Kuwait's Haitham Al-Ghais next month.
Under Barkindo's stewardship, OPEC forged ties with 10 other oil producing countries, such as Russia, to form a wider group known as OPEC+ in a bid to better tame global oil prices, rocked by the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and more recently the war in Ukraine.