Few people knew Robert Mabro, who was one of the kindest and most important figures in the oil sector far from government and private companies.
The academic passed away on Tuesday while on holiday in Greece. He was one of the most eminent defenders of OPEC in the seventies and eighties and was one of the most active figures to make an approach between producers and consumers in the nineties.
Mabro was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in December 1934 from Lebanese parents and spent around 40 years writing researches on oil and energy relations and on their economic, political, and technical aspects.
He enjoyed a significant influence in the oil sector through the center he established and headed for around 30 years in Oxford University, which has been considered one of the most important energy studies centers in the world and a platform where energy-concerned ministers, company chairmen, researchers, and practitioner used to meet.
He studied in Britain and focused his interests on the world of oil, then worked in OPEC till his death.
Mabro enjoyed strong relations with all Gulf officials and used to call on all oil companies chairmen and government officials to attend Oxford’s annual conferences known as “Oxford Energy Seminar,” which is usually held to highlight the state of the market and/or global economic conditions.
Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid al-Falih, Assistant Minister of Energy Prince AbdulAziz bin Salman, Dr. Majid A. Al-Moneef, Saudi Arabia governor for OPEC, and many other figures were among the permanent participants in the seminars.
The late OPEC official attracted many sponsors including Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Saudi Ministry of Petroleum, in addition to many global companies like Shell, British Petroleum (BP), ExxonMobil, Statoil from Norway. He also established the Oxford Club for energy politics that comprises people who are interested in the sector including practitioners and researchers.
Speaking about Mabro, Dr. Anas al-Hajji said that the latter’s death is a huge loss for Gulf countries and the oil sector, as he was one of the most serious and logic experts in dealing with the market’s different cases and the front-line defense for Gulf countries in the West.
In May 2015, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies has issued a special review to dedicate Mabro and his contributions in the sector; it also discussed the feasibility of his ideas by the time the oil market witnesses a critical stage and a sharp drop in global prices.
In the review, Bassam Fattouh, current director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, has said that Mabro’s ideas are very important in the current situation because he considered that OPEC plays an important role when the market witnesses major weakness or rising demand.
Mabro once compared OPEC to a teabag “because it only works when it is in hot water.”
Adrian Lajous, former CEO of Pemex pointed that after oil prices slid below $10 a barrel in 1997, Mabro played a significant role in convincing Mexico to join Venezuela and Saudi Arabia in 1998 to reduce their production and raise oil prices, which reached USD10 in the same year.
Apparently, Mabro’s contribution in settling the crisis of 1998 was more influential than the diplomatic efforts made backstage, because as people say, the late OPEC official always paid attention to OPEC and Arab oil counties as no one did or may ever do.