Welcome Remarks by OPEC Secretary General

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, during the visit of the IEA Delegation to the OPEC Secretariat, 4 April 2018, Vienna, Austria.


Friends, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr. Fatih Birol, and members of his delegation to the OPEC Secretariat.

Today’s visit has both personal and professional importance to both our organizations.  This is true not only in terms of ‘inter-agency’ relationships.  It is also true in terms of the world economy and what some have called international ‘energy diplomacy’.

There can be no doubt that the importance of our organizations has grown over the years.  Whether through a growth in membership or an increase in the quality and quantity of their analytical work, the IEA and OPEC have both acquired greater prominence in global energy matters.

The close relationship that has developed between the IEA and OPEC is also note-worthy.  Today, each organization is working closely on almost every front that pertains to the energy industry, and both have taken a positive stance during the recent downturn.

In short, whether it is under the ‘umbrella’ of the International Energy Forum (IEF), or through coordinated joint research activities, ‘collaboration’ and ‘complementarity’ between our two organizations have become the watchwords of the day.

A demonstration of this can be seen in the extensive collaboration that we pursue through the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI), in which both the IEA and OPEC play a critical role.  The ongoing efforts to improve the access to and the quality of energy data has brought our two organizations together – along with many other energy stakeholders.

There is also the collaborative work our organizations do in the context of the Group of 20 (G-20).  Through this forum, we have arrived at important decisions and have undertaken valuable joint studies, which have provided important inputs into our respective work.

Bilaterally, too, we have made significant progress.  Our two organizations have become increasingly complementary to each other.  More importantly, the ‘boundaries’ and divergences of opinion that existed between our organizations have faded.  This is especially apparent when we compare where we are today with where we were just some years ago.

In short, regardless of the event, venue or opportunity, the close cooperation achieved over the past couple of years by the IEA and OPEC has been enriching, rewarding and broadly recognized.

I would also like to underscore the faith that the IEA’s Executive Director and I have in each other’s organization and at a personal level.

I have known Fatih since his early years when he was at the OPEC Secretariat.  Over the years, he has grown to be a very close friend of mine – and today we are in continuous contact with each other in various capacities.

When I took the reins of OPEC in August 2016, one of my very first visits was to his office at the IEA’s headquarters in Paris.  He was gracious and hospitable.  It was a reminder that the most successful professional relationships are built on the basis of friendship.

It was Claude Mandil (former Executive Secretary of the IEA) who said to me in Paris, after my visit to your office – ‘Congratulations to you and Fatih for breaking down the Berlin Wall that kept OPEC and the IEA apart for too long’.

Today, we reciprocate that hospitality.  I am thus honoured to warmly welcome him and his team to the OPEC Secretariat.  As both a colleague and friend, this is truly a sort of ‘homecoming’ for him – a reuniting of former members of the OPEC family.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Through our respective organizations, Fatih and I have shared many platforms.  We have been together for high-level policy discussions and have served together on various panels.  Whether at the World Energy Council or the World Petroleum Congress, we have had numerous opportunities to exchange outlooks, share insights and break bread together.

We have also been together at world renowned platforms, participating in special sessions at events such as CERAWeek in Houston, the Oil & Money Conference in London and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In fact, our discussions and exchanges on the market and the industry have been much commended.  Dialogue and discussions between the IEA and OPEC are increasingly considered an essential part of the various international gatherings in which we participate.  Conference organizers now regularly ask us to appear together on the same panel – and we play off each other well.

At the same time, we continue to pursue close relationships between our organizations at different levels – not just at the executive level.  Our technical experts, research specialists and statisticians often come together at specialized gatherings and technical meetings.

Just a few weeks ago, we held the Sixth Joint IEA-IEF-OPEC Workshop on the Interactions between Physical and Financial Energy Markets here in Vienna.  This Workshop was immediately followed by a specialized technical meeting, held here at the Secretariat.

These were both exemplary affairs.  But we have a lot more that we can do together – and there is a lot more to achieve in the coming years.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are proud that the relations between our two great organizations have strengthened over the years.  Both the IEA and OPEC have been enriched and stimulated through an increase in the extent and quality of our contacts, content and cooperation.

For today, we have much ground to cover.  Today’s programme shall give us an opportunity to look further into many areas of common interest, as well as areas of possible collaboration.  These potential ‘avenues of cooperation’ hold great promise – not only to address the common challenges that we face together but to deepen our institutional ties even further.

Fatih, I welcome you back to one of your starting places – your old ‘home’.  I thank you for your friendship and close cooperation.  The dialogue between our organizations is something to be proud of.  It forms part of an ‘enhanced momentum’ that we have seen in recent years – which will further strengthen our cooperation, now and into the future.

Thank you.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General (r), delivers his remarks at the meeting

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General (r), delivers his remarks at the meeting

HE Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General (r); with Dr. Birol, IEA Executive Director

HE Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General (r); with Dr. Birol, IEA Executive Director

At the meeting, Dr. Birol and his team shared their views on current and future energy markets

At the meeting, Dr. Birol and his team shared their views on current and future energy markets