Former Oil Minister dies aged 75 after career spanning five decades
London, United Kingdom | – Rilwanu Lukman, one of the longest-serving heads both the Nigerian oil industry and OPEC, has died aged 75 after a career spanning five decades, the oil-producers’ group, OPEC said Monday.
Nigerian Dr. Lukman had played a key role mending fences in the often fractious Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as in Nigeria, where he worked to reform the oil industry and resolve a conflict with militants.
“He was widely recognized and highly regarded in the global petroleum industry; a loyal and dedicated man, who had the best interests of Nigeria and OPEC at heart,” OPEC said, without expanding on the cause of his death.
Dr. Lukman had been oil minister between 1986 and 1990, and then again between 2008 and 2010, in addition to heading state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) between 1999 and 2003.
During his last tenure as a minister, he tried to reform Nigeria’s troubled oil industry, working to cut its bloated fuel subsidies and to find private finance for its state companies. But he also assisted the government in brokering an amnesty with militants that had crippled the country’s oil industry.
The seasoned official is best remembered internationally as one of the most experienced heads of OPEC, where he served as a secretary-general between 1995 and 2000, and as president three times between 1986 and 2002.
He was known as a skilled, soft-spoken diplomat, helping steer the group toward consensus, particularly during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. “Whoever is president has to get people to work together,” he told The Wall Street Journal in a 2008 interview.