12 Titans of Oil and Gas

The most powerful and influential in the energy sector

25.03.2022 | by Alan Griffin
Photo by Pexel
Photo by Pexel

The world’s largest oil and gas producers are led by some of the world’s most influential men (and a woman), BUT who are they and which countries do they represent as many wield significant global power that impacts all of our lives.

As energy prices skyrocket due to Russia’s recent actions will they help balance the world’s economy? Is Opec+ becoming more relevant, or is it set to decline as we see the world’s shift to renewables speed up?

Energy security and meeting climate commitments is becoming more important for many nations in the face of inflation, geo-politics and environmental impact studies.

Here are 12 countries that produce the most oil and gas (not in specific order):

  • United States
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Russia
  • Canada
  • China
  • Iraq
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Brazil
  • Iran
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • Algeria
‘International Energy Statistics Dec’ 2021’

Some of these leaders are visionaries pushing for change in the face of climate issues but they all play a significant role in our lives.

12 important Oil and Gas Barons, CEO’s and Ministers


United States:  Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm

One of the very few women to wield power and influence in the oil and gas sector, Jennifer has served as United States Secretary of Energy since Feb, 2021.

Harvard educated, Granholm was born in Vancouver and moved to the US when she was 4. She is a member of the democratic party and was previously the governor of Michigan.

She is a political appointee and committed to driving the US to a net zero carbon country by 2050. She has been quoted as saying “we have got to figure out ways to clean up our fossil fuel industry”.


Russia: Rosneft boss Igor Sechin

Igor is arguably the de facto deputy of Vladimir Putin as well as the leader of Russia’s state oil company Rosneft. The company had revenues of over $122 billion in 2021. Previous roles include being chief of staff to Putin when he was deputy mayor of St Petersburg in 1994. He is seen as a trusted confidante of President Putin and has the nickname of ‘Darth Vader’ as he leads a Kremlin faction of former security agents.

He became Chairman of Rosneft in 2004 and then President in 2012. He has been sanctioned by the European Union, the US and the UK. The superyacht he allegedly owns ‘Amore Velo’ was recently seized in France. He is not a figure to be trifled with and will be a key ally to Putin during the invasion of Ukraine.


Canada: Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson

Jonathan was born in 1965 in Ontario and is a political appointee. Prior to entering politics, he spent 20 years in the private sector mainly with green technology companies from gas purification to biomass, he became CEO of BioteQ Environmental Technologies in 2011.

Wilkinson is walking a tightrope as he tries balancing climate commitments, green technology investment with the need to keep Canadian oil and gas revenues high. He is unlikely to keep all parties happy in Canada.


China: Chairman of Sinopec, Ma Yongsheng

Ma Yongsheng is a scientist by background and leads one of the world’s most powerful oil and gas companies. He was the chief geologist of Sinopec’s southern division until 2006 when he moved into management. He has had a rapid rise within the organisation and within the party.

In 2018 he became President of Sinopec and in November 2021 became the Chairman. He is also a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

“We should seek balance between fossil fuel development and renewables in the energy transition,” Ma was quoted as saying.


Iraq: Minister for Oil, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar

Ihsan is an engineer who became director general of Basra Oil before becoming an Iraqi minister. Born in 1974, he was raised by a family working in the oil industry and gained an engineering degree in 1996.

He apparently has no political affiliations though his cousin is the leader of the Islamic Virtue Party and another cousin was the head of parliaments integrity committee. There have been allegations of corruption against the Basra oil company during his tenure.


Saudi Arabia: Aramco CEO, Amin Nasser

President and CEO of Aramco, Nasser manages a workforce of c.80,000 and the worlds largest oil production company. He is an engineer by training and since leading the company has had to deal with drone attacks and the companies listing on the stockmarket. Born in 1960 he attended the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.


United Arab Emirates: Adnoc, CEO, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

Born in 1973, Sultan gained a BSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Southern California and then a Phd at Coventry University. He is the CEO of Adnoc and a Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology in the UAE. He has also become a Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Sultan has various chairmanships in the UAE such as Emirates Development Bank, Masdar, and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation.

He has been credited with modernising and reforming Adnoc whilst expanding its international partnerships. He is an advocate of technology and innovation and has an OBE from the UK.  A powerful and engaging figure he regularly accompanies UAE’s leaders on foreign trips.


Petrobras: President, Joaquim Silva e Luna

Joaquim is a former Minister and General who was appointed by Jair Bolsonaro in April 2021. Born in 1949, he began his career in the military obtaining a degree in engineering then moving up the ranks till be became a Major General in 2002 and a four-star general in 2011. He became the chief of staff of the Brazilian army in 2014 before going into politics and becoming the first military man to become Minister of Defence. In Feb 2021, Bolsonaro fired the President of Petrobas and placed Joaquim as President.

He is known for his spartan ways, eschewing the limelight and has a history of aggressive cost cutting. Carlos Marun, Brazilian congressman said “He once told me, ‘If I buy a pair of pants, I throw another one out. If I buy shoes, I throw a pair out”.


Iran: Minister of Petroleum, Javad Owji

Born in 1966 he received a degree in oil engineering from the Petroleum University of Technology in Ahwaz.

He has worked much of his life in oil related public office and was deputy oil minister and head of the National Iranian Gas Company from 2009 to 2013. He has served on various oil boards. In August 2021 Javad was confirmed as Minister of Petroleum in Iran.

His approach to Iranian oil sales will be to focus on “oil for goods and oil for investment,” adding that “We will hopefully find new oil markets.” Hopes for a nuclear deal within Iran are key to helping free the economy and improving living conditions.


Kuwait: CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Company, Sheikh Nawaf al-Saud al-Nasser al Sabah

Appointed in March 2022, he is a member of the ruling family of Kuwait and a graduate of Princeton in 1994, he also received a Doctor of Law degree cum laude from Harvard in 1997.


Algeria: CEO of Sonatrach, Toufik Hakkar

Sonatrach is said to be Africa’s largest company. It is run by Toufik Hakkar who has an engineering degree from Eni Corporate University. “Hakkar has the skills, experience, and profile to lead Sonatrach,” said a former CEO who wished to remain anonymous “Let’s hope that the new authorities give him the time and room to work”. Like other key LNG producers Toufik has an important role to play in global energy balance.


Qatar: CEO of Qatar Energy, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi

He is the current Minister of Energy in Qatar, and the President and CEO of Qatar Energy. He studied petroleum and natural gas at Penn State in the US and graduated in 1991, whilst at University he joined QE.

He has worked in QE all his working life and became President and CEO in 2014. He is also Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs and a cabinet member. QE has big plans to grow, especially in the LNG space with the expansion of the North Field project which could increase output by up to 40%.

Qatar also has an important part to play with other large-scale LNG producers in re-balancing energy supplies in the west and the east.

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