Opening address to the 145th Meeting of the OPEC Conference

No 9/2007
Vienna, Austria
11 Sep 2007

by HE Mohamed Bin Dhaen Al Hamli, President of the Conference and Minister of Energy of the United Arab Emirates

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to Vienna, for the 145th Meeting of the OPEC Conference.

I should like to extend a special welcome to three of Their Excellencies, who are attending the OPEC Conference for the first time as Heads of Delegation. They are His Excellency Gholamhossein Nozari, Acting Minister of Petroleum of the Islamic Republic of Iran, His Excellency Eng. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Aleem, Acting Minister of Oil of Kuwait, and His Excellency H. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), Minister of State for Energy (Petroleum) of Nigeria. We look forward to benefiting from their expertise and wisdom at this and future Conferences. At the same time, I should like to thank their predecessors for their excellent contributions to past Conferences and to wish them well for the future. They are His Excellency Sayed Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh, for the Islamic Republic of Iran, His Excellency Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah, for Kuwait, and His Excellency Dr Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru, for Nigeria.

Let me also greet the distinguished Observers from non-OPEC oil-producing countries at today’s Meeting — His Excellency Eng. Sameh Fahmy, the Minister of Petroleum of Egypt, His Excellency Salim M. Al-Riyami, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to Austria, His Excellency Andrey G. Reus, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy of the Russian Federation, and Mr Raul Cardoso Maycotte, representing Mexico. OPEC is thankful for their presence today and for their cooperation.

Half a year has passed since the last Meeting of the Conference. In this time, the market has seen a steady strengthening of oil prices up to the end of July, when there was a sudden reversal of this trend. It demonstrated, once again, the underlying volatility in the international oil market, the effect of this on producers and consumers alike and the difficulties that this creates for sound investment planning for the future. Furthermore, continuing uncertainties about the world oil demand outlook, exacerbated recently by financial markets turmoil, are adding to these difficulties.

Since the last Ministerial Conference, OPEC has continued to monitor carefully the oil market. We can say, without any doubt, that the present price levels are not the result of a shortage of crude. The market remains well-supplied, commercial stocks are at healthy levels and the level of upstream spare capacity has increased. OPEC will continue monitoring oil market developments, and will act in a timely and adequate manner, should there be indications of a shortage of crude.

Indeed, we shall carefully review the market outlook at today’s meeting, especially for the coming months, as the Northern Hemisphere winter approaches. This will include examining the recent evolution of market fundamentals, prices and volatility, assessing the key drivers, and analysing OPEC’s latest projections for the rest of 2007 and for 2008. We shall also be assessing the turbulence in international financial markets, as this may have an impact on the world economic growth and, consequently, on oil demand.

The past six months have witnessed significant developments in other energy and energy-related areas which concern OPEC, and these will feature in our discussions too. I refer, in particular, to the heightened global awareness of climate change related issues, and ongoing formal and informal related multilateral discussions. We will also discuss other multilateral issues, such as trade and sustainable development. These are all major issues in their own right, and yet they are all closely connected to each other. Of most significance to us meeting here today is that they all have a strong association with future energy fundamentals and present many challenges and opportunities for the oil sector.

And so, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, with such a large agenda in front of us, it is time to proceed with our meeting.

Thank you.