By Muyiwa Lucas and John Ofikhenua

Huwaiti Haitham Al-Ghais yesterday assumed office as the new Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

  Al-Ghais was appointed as the new chief of OPEC last January for a three-year tenure in the first instance.

Al-Ghais said he looked forward to “working with our member countries and our many partners around the world to ensure a sustainable and inclusive energy future which leaves no one behind.”

Al-Ghais succeeded the late OPEC Scribe, Nigeria’s Mohammad Barkindo, who died on July 5. The late Barkindo was appointed Secretary-General of OPEC in June 2016 for three years, but took office on August 1, 2016, succeeding the Libyan Abdallah Salem el-Badri, who had been Secretary-General since 2007.

Barkindo, who steered the group through the creation of the OPEC+ Alliance, was due to step down at the end of this month after six years at the OPEC top job.

Al-Ghais served as deputy managing director for international marketing, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), before taking up the role of OPEC chief. He was also Kuwait’s governor for OPEC from 2017 to last year.

In an online interview with Nigerian reporters, Al-Ghais gave what may be an insight into crude price stability, explaining that market forces will determine the stability of the crude oil market instead of any intervention.

“The direction is dictated by the market conditions. The market conditions is what unites OPEC and then the wider group of OPEC plus and to doing whatever it takes unnecessary to maintaining the market balance, bearing in mind that the market, a healthy state of the market, where it’s balanced between supply and demand, is in the benefit of not only the oil producers, but also all consuming countries,” he explained, adding that the position and decision is for the organisation to take and not a personal one.

Commenting on the Russian and Ukraine crisis and effect on the market, the Secretary General noted that he would deliberate with member countries, Board of Governors or the Economic Commission Board and then with the management and put the plans for all the critical issues and challenges.

On the pending issue of whether to increase production volume in line with the US request, the Secretary General said he cannot unilaterally take the decision of meeting the country’s call for output increase.

“I think it’s not up to me just to meet with the officials. You’re seeing that the US officials have come to the Middle East and have met with a wide group of the Gulf Cooperation Council, out of which three member countries Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait are also OPEC member countries,” he said.