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Tribute to a consummate oilman

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  1. D Alirio Parra passed away quietly in London last week. In addition to being my friend for many years – and a friend to many other Nigerians – he was a former Minister of Energy and Mines in Venezuela and a Senior Advisor to the CWC Group, a British events management company that organises the respected annual Nigeria Oil and Gas conference in Abuja.

    Dr. Alirio Parra (m) with former oil minister, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman and others
  2. Here is a brief tribute, written by Mr. Scott Shelton, the joint CEO of CWC:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of His Excellency, Dr Alirio Parra, on March 9, 2018, aged 90. Dr Parra was an inspiration to us all and will be sorely missed here at CWC. He was energised by the industry and refused to give up work as he got older. Up until very recently Dr. Parra was one of the first to arrive in our office every morning; and in 2017, he was still insisting on travelling to Nigeria, which he loved…and to Vienna to participate in OPEC-related activities.

Orinoco heavy crude

Dr. Parra also had an incredible and unquenchable thirst for knowledge, whether it was linked to the latest industry trends, or to the functionality of the latest Apple product. He never felt too old to learn. With a strong moral compass, an unrelenting dedication to his industry and a calm and modest persona, he was an example to all of our staff, both past and present.

Early in his career, as a member of the Presidential Commission on Oil Nationalisation in 1975, he participated in the creation of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., or PDVSA. And, as a founding Board Member of PDVSA, he spent 15 years helping to shape the company into an efficient, global commercial enterprise.

In this capacity, he modernised PDVSA’s downstream sector and revamped the entire refinery sub-sector, while also ensuring that the company was more efficiently integrated into world markets. He also initiated and facilitated the development of Orinoco heavy crude. Dr. Parra was Venezuela’s Minister of Energy and Mines from 1992–94 and during this period he also served as President of the OPEC Conference.

These eminent achievements alone are venerable enough; but over the years Dr. Parra was also involved with many other professional efforts. He was a former President of the International Association of Energy Economists (1988), Chairman of the British Institute of Energy Economics (1997) and the Oxford Energy Policy Club (1984-95). He was also a former President of the Latin American Energy Organisation, OLADE and a member of the International Advisory Board of the French oil company, Total.

In October 2006, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Institute of Energy Economics. He was also Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Energy Intelligence Group in Washington DC, and Vice-President of the Anglo-Venezuelan Society in London.

In 1997, he joined CWC Group where he remained until he died. Here he advised the Board, met with senior figures in the world of Energy, chaired many conferences and enjoyed the office life at our London HQ.

In 2017, at a gala dinner among OPEC and non-OPEC participants which commemorated the landmark ‘Declaration of Cooperation’, the Organisation honoured his distinguished career and life achievements. On receiving the award, Dr. Parra said: “I am humbled, surprised, but delighted to be the recipient of this tremendous and incredible honour.”

His Excellency, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, the current OPEC Secretary General, said, as soon as he heard about Dr Parra’s demise: “This is an extremely sad day, not only for his family, his wife Sally and their children, who are in our thoughts and prayers, but for the entire OPEC family which Dr. Parra was a founding member of and remained a treasured part of his entire life. But we should also recall the great life of this quintessential gentleman: one of the great men of the industry, a proud son of Venezuela and a citizen of the world, a scholar, a real oil man – and, to many of us, a very dear friend.”

Even as he was fading away last week Dr Parra refused to give up and was in regular contact with CWC staff, hungry for industry news and concerned about the welfare of the work teams.

This is typical of the impressive gentleman and professional who knew no limitation in his age and was always thinking of others. Our thoughts and prayers are with Alirio’s family at this difficult time. May he rest in peace.


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