World is facing a ‘game changer’ as Russia’s war roils energy markets, says OPEC’s Barkindo

World is facing a 'game changer' as Russia's war roils energy markets, says OPEC's Barkindo

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo speaks during the opening ceremony of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi on November 11, 2019.

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Mohammad Barkindo, secretary general of OPEC, said Monday that in the face of skyrocketing energy prices the group’s mission remains to act as a reliable supplier.

He said the oil-producing alliance has “no control over current events” and that geopolitics have now taken over and are “dictating the pace of the market.”

Barkindo’s comments, made at CERAWeek by S&P Global, come as the energy industry is roiled after Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting supply concerns and sending prices to record highs. Oil broke above $130 Sunday evening for the first time since 2008, and European natural gas prices are now trading at record highs.

Still, OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, have opted to keep production steady.

The group last met on March 2, deciding to stick to a previously agreed-upon schedule to increase output by 400,000 barrels per day in April. The move is part of the group’s unwinding of the almost 10 million barrels per day it pulled from the market in April 2020 as the pandemic sapped demand for petroleum products.

Russia, which is part of OPEC+, is one of the world’s largest oil-producing nations and the world’s second-largest producer of natural gas. Financial sanctions against the country by the U.S. and allies have had indirect consequences on the country’s energy complex, and officials have said more sanctions could be coming.

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Barkindo did not mince words when describing the lasting impact of Russia’s invasion.

“We are facing what is likely to be a global game-changer in terms of the energy transition,” he said.

He added that he was hesitant to appear at CERAWeek, before saying that it’s “important to keep communication lines open, especially in times of crisis like the one the world is facing today.”

“All we can do is to stay the course,” he said.