OPEC chief makes first trip to oil-rich Congo

During the trip, which will last until Wednesday, the secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet various government officials, including Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso and President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Minister of Hydrocarbons of the Republic of the Congo Jean-Marc Thystere-Tchicaya arrives for the 178th Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna, Austria, on March 05, 2020. Delegates from oil-producing countries started arrived in Vienna to discuss output cuts in a meeting overshadowed by worries over the new coronavirus -- both its affect on oil prices as well as a big gathering like OPEC.
ALEX HALADA / AFP

BRAZZAVILLE - OPEC chief Mohammad Barkindo arrived in Congo late Sunday in the first-ever visit by a head of the powerful cartel to the oil-rich African country where crude constitutes the primary source of income, the Congolese hydrocarbons ministry said.

"Congo has an essential role to play in the global energy industry and OPEC plans to encourage it," Barkindo was quoted as saying in a statement published by the ministry.

During the trip, which will last until Wednesday, the secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet various government officials, including Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso and President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Barkindo will also visit an oil platform off the coast near Pointe-Noire, Congo's economic capital.

Arriving at Brazzaville airport on a flight from Nigeria, Barkindo was welcomed by hydrocarbons minister, Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua. The fourth-biggest oil producer south of the Sahara, behind Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, Congo joined OPEC in 2018.

Congo is estimated to have proven reserves of some 2.9 billion barrels of oil and its daily output amounts to 336,000 barrels. French group TotalEnergies accounts for just over two-thirds of overall output and it saw its contract for operating the Djeno terminal renewed last year for a further 20 years.

Italian group ENI and US rival Chevron are also present in the country. Brazzaville set up the publicly-owned group National Society of Petroleum of Congo (SNPC) in 1998. The city is also home to the African Petroleum Producers' Organization (APPO).

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