OPEC, its insights and the number 34

OPEC Bulletin Commentary November-December 2010

There are 34 of them and they stand out in their bold turquoise blue italics. Each is significant in its own way.

Collectively, their significance reaches new heights when it comes to understanding what motivates OPEC, what lies behind its decisions and what drives its actions.

And this has gained added resonance in this 50th anniversary year of the Organization, which is now drawing to a close.

The '34' refers to the number of perceptive insights highlighted in the executive summary of the 2010 issue of OPEC's annual research study, the World Oil Outlook (WOO), which was launched at the Organization's Vienna-based Secretariat on November 4. The purpose of this book is to provide a better understanding of the major issues that are of concern to OPEC in particular and the industry in general at the present time.

Thirty-four perceptive insights. This is a big number for insights. Why are there so many? Are they all that crucial for gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges facing OPEC and the industry today?

Their scope is extensive, as can be seen on page 53 of this OPEC Bulletin. They cover the oil supply chain, other types of energy, the world economy, financial institutions, transportation, trade, cost trends, technology, climate change, sustainable development, energy poverty, dialogue and so on.

They cut across time-horizons, with scenarios extending from the present day to 2030. Some issues are longstanding and well-known, while others are new and pressing. Indeed, some may turn out to be ephemeral - here today, gone tomorrow.

These are all matters of interest to oil analysts. OPEC and its teams of experts in both Member Countries and its Secretariat are no exception.

The oil matrix has evolved into a highly complex one since the Organization was established in 1960.

Globalization. Interdependence. Cooperation. These are all familiar words to us. Quite rightly so.

We are in a world of dynamic, substantive interlinkages. Everything fits together with everything else. Or at least it should do in a well-functioning global oil industry. This is what we strive for in OPEC.

We need to study issues individually and in-depth. At the same time, we need to perceive the fuller, holistic picture. It all matters.

When viewed this way, 34 perceptive insights do not seem to be so many. And, let us remember, these insights are selections. There are more within the 282 pages of this year's WOO.

Each insight is significant. And then, on top of this, there is their collective significance. The acquisition of each insight is a further demonstration of OPEC's unyielding commitment to its longstanding objective of market order and stability. This was expressed in its very first Conference resolution of September 14, 1960, and remains as relevant today.

OPEC's Anniversary year has given us the chance to reflect on the achievements of the past. These are many and diverse and have had a positive impact on the development of the industry over the past 50 years.

The distance we have travelled so far as an Organization can be surmised from the data-rich pages of the other publication launched on November 4 - the 2009 issue of OPEC's Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB). This provides detailed historic time-series data on many aspects of the global petroleum industry, with a heavy emphasis on our Member Countries. Much of this data, in the ASB's interactive electronic format, reaches back to OPEC's birth.

The ASB and the WOO complement each other well, linking the past with the present and then the present with the future.

It is all one long continuum, and its latest expression will be found in the 158th (Extraordinary) Meeting of the Conference in Quito on November 11. There, our Ministers will review the current state of the oil market, benefiting from the lessons of the past and guided by the perceptions of the future. These are all a product of the extensive research carried out by the Organization and brought to the attention of the world at large through our publications and other carefully tailored information outlets.

OPEC Bulletin Nov-Dec 2010

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