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25

C o n f e r e n c e N o t e s

Honouring a

legend

Later in the evening, participants honoured Dr Alirio Parra of

Venezuela, a pioneer of the oil industry and witness to history,

including the founding of OPEC. In fact, he is the last surviv-

ing witness of the Baghdad meeting which established OPEC

in 1960, said Khalid A Al-Falih, Saudi Arabian Minister of

Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, and President of the

OPEC Conference, who gave the recitation in Parra’s honour.

At that time of OPEC’s founding, Parra was an assistant to

Venezuela’s legendary Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons,

Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo. The objective and vision of the

Founder Members back in 1960 — to protect the long-term

interests of the Organization’sMember Countries and tomove

forward together — is essentially the same one that is still

adhered to today, noted Al-Falih.

Al-Falih listed Parra’s many impressive accomplish-

ments spanning the decades of his career in the oil

industry. These included Parra’s time as a member of the

Presidential Commission on Oil Nationalization in 1975 in

Venezuela, when he participated in the creation of Petroleos

de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). Then, as a board member of the

company, he spent 15 years helping to shape the com-

pany into an efficient, global commercial enterprise, said

Al-Falih, including initiating and facilitating development

of Orinoco extra-heavy crude. Parra also served as the

country’s Minister of Energy and Mines (1992–94) and as

President of the OPEC Conference.

After Al-Falih’s comments, Parra stood at the podium to

thank his audience and share his humble delight at receiv-

ing the honour given to him. He extended his deep gratitude

to the OPEC Secretary General for its extraordinary gesture,

adding that Barkindo may already be viewed as one of the

most successful Secretaries General since the founding of

the Organization.

“What has been accomplished thus far by those here this

evening has made a difference to so many people’s lives,”

said Parra, “but everyone must still roll up their sleeves and

continue with the journey.”

Parra noted that back in 1960 there were many people

who believed that OPECwould not last long; but it is still here

today—and its best days are yet to come. “I believe that OPEC

is currently the most cohesive group of Member Countries in

living memory,” said Parra to thunderous applause. He is a

man who should know.

Dr Alirio Parra of Venezuela, a pioneer of the oil industry and witness to history, including the

founding of OPEC.