Intervention by OPEC Secretary General to the Pre-Summit Ministerial Symposium

Delivered by HE Abdalla Salem El-Badri, OPEC Secretary General, to the Third OPEC Summit Ministerial Symposium, Session III - Energy for Sustainable Development, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15 November 2007

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I should like to thank Ms JoAnne DiSano for her excellent background paper.

I fully agree with your conclusion, Ms DiSano, that there must be an integrated approach to energy for sustainable development, accommodating the three mutually-supportive pillars of economic development, social progress and environmental protection.

Energy is crucial for sustainable development. Indeed, increased use of energy, in particular fossil fuels, has allowed billions of people to see their living conditions improve, prosperity grow and life-expectancy increase.

But this has been mostly in developed countries. The story is very different elsewhere.

As you rightly emphasize, more than two billion people have no access to modern energy services. Instead, people living in the rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America, must rely on firewood, dung and plant residue. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.5 million people die each year from inhaling biomass smoke.

As was made clear in Johannesburg five years ago, poverty alleviation should remain an overriding priority.

And this means ensuring continuous access by the poor to affordable modern energy services.

This is a challenging target. And it is an achievable one, through: adopting balanced economic and social policies tailored to the needs of poorer nations; providing adequate financial support; developing and transferring affordable and environmentally-sound technologies; sharing knowledge and best practices; and, in general, ensuring that the eight UN Millennium Development Goals are met by the international community.

It is well known that energy use will grow by almost 50 per cent by 2030, due to rising populations, growing economies and improved living conditions.

To help meet this growing demand, all energy sources are welcome.

The contribution of renewables will remain modest in the foreseeable future,\ because of the competition, by some of them, for water and land otherwise required for food production.

In short, the world will continue to rely on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, to satisfy the energy needs of the growing populations and give them a better life.

But how can this be done in an environmentally friendly way?

There is no silver bullet. However, it is clear that a key element of the response is the development, deployment and transfer of cleaner fossil fuel technologies.

And how is OPEC handling such challenges?

First of all, let me stress that, just like anyone else, the citizens of our Member Countries wish to live in a cleaner, safer world, and, moreover, to pass this on to our future generations.

We are, therefore, acting on numerous fronts in this complex arena.

We aim to reduce our environmental footprint as much as possible.

Significant progress has been made with gas-flaring in recent years. Our Member Countries have ambitious programmes aimed at stopping this in the near future. Several Members are actively engaged in the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership.

Much has been done already to reduce tailpipe emissions from vehicles and to phase-out the use of lead.

Our Member Countries have been investing billions of US dollars in upgrading refineries to meet the most stringent product specifications.

OPEC has recently joined the International Energy Agency’s Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, whose purpose is to cover a wide range of technology options aimed at reducing such emissions.

More importantly, one of the three worldwide Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration projects is in an OPEC Member Country, Algeria. Other countries are exploring the possibility to widely use CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

However, we believe that, over and above our own efforts, industrialized countries should take the lead in the funding and execution of large CCS demonstration projects, under the accepted principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me conclude by reminding you of OPEC’s most important role in sustainable development. This is to provide the fuel of choice, petroleum, to satisfy the world needs, in a reliable, secure, efficient and environmentally-sound manner. This, by itself, is already a great achievement — and it is repeated, without fail, every day.

Thank you.