Dr. Fadhil J. Chalabi: a distinguished OPEC diplomat

TRIBUTE to Dr. Fadhil J. Chalabi

It was with profound sadness that OPEC has learnt of the passing of one of the Organization’s and the petroleum industry’s most esteemed and learned leaders, Dr. Fadhil J. Chalabi. The OPEC Secretariat extends its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Dr. Chalabi.

His Excellency, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, said: “We have lost a dear and cherished member of the OPEC family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. We should also remember Dr. Chalabi’s great life, his work and his achievements. He gave so much to OPEC and the oil industry, as a consummate diplomat and renowned international expert with an encyclopedic knowledge whose writings are acknowledged and admired around the world.”

Dr. Chalabi served OPEC with great distinction for more than a decade, as Deputy Secretary General of the Organization from 1978-89 and also as Acting Secretary General from 1983-88. Dr Chalabi served during a turbulent period for the global oil market; his dedication, wisdom and erudite skills played an important role in ensuring the Organization navigated those challenging times.

This included supporting the 1986 efforts of ‘The Three Wise Men’ – Dr. Rilwanu Lukman from Nigeria, Arturo Hernandez Grisanti from Venezuela and Dr. Subroto from Indonesia – who embarked on a tour of OPEC and non-OPEC producers, as well as consumers, to help better understand the evolving situation and find a constructive way forward in terms of bringing stability to the market.

Dr. Chalabi also served his home country of Iraq with excellence for many decades. After graduating from Baghdad University in 1951, he gained a PhD in oil economics from the University of Paris, before being appointed director of oil affairs in the Iraqi Ministry of Oil in the late-1960s, and in 1973 he became Iraq's permanent undersecretary of oil.

At the end of the 1980s, he became Executive Director of the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London.

Dr Chalabi was also a prolific writer and scholar and has published a plethora of academic articles and books about the industry over the years. His books include the acclaimed ‘OPEC at the Crossroads’ (1989) and ‘Oil Policies, Oil Myths: Observations of an OPEC Insider’ (2010).

In fondly recalling a meeting at the OPEC Secretariat in April 2017, Barkindo said: “It was a great honour for me to welcome Dr. Chalabi to the Secretariat. His intellect, his recall of details and his wise counsel have been a source of great succour to me over many decades. OPEC and the oil industry have truly lost a legend.”

A book of condolence has now been opened at the OPEC Secretariat for those wishing to leave a message.

Dr. Fadhil J. Chalabi, former Deputy Secretary General and Acting Secretary General of OPEC (r), with HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

Dr. Fadhil J. Chalabi, former Deputy Secretary General and Acting Secretary General of OPEC (r), with HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General