OPEC : Opening address to the 127th Meeting of the OPEC Conference

Opening address to the 127th Meeting of the OPEC Conference

No 13/2003
Vienna, Austria
24 Sep 2003

by HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, President of the Conference and Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry, Qatar

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome, once again, to OPEC in Vienna, for the 127th Meeting of the OPEC Conference.

I should like to begin by congratulating HE Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on his recent appointment as Kuwait ’s Minister of Energy. HE is already well-known to us, having been Kuwait’s Head of Delegation at our Conference over the past year and a half, in his capacity as Acting Minister of Oil. I should also like to welcom e to our Meeting HE Dr Ibrahim Bahr Alolom, in his capacity as Minister of Oil of Iraq.

Today’s Meeting is the second of OPEC’s two regular half-yearly Conferences, whose mandate covers a broad range of internal and external issues affecting OPEC and its Member Countries, including the activities of the Secretariat. This is in contrast to the Extraordinary Meetings we have been convening at frequent intervals since the year 2000, with the principal purpose of monitoring the progress of our production agreements in the prevailing market conditions. The present agreement for OPEC-10’s actual production stands at 25.4 million barrels a day.

Crude oil prices have weakened since our last Meeting two months ago, but they remain within the range of our price band of $22–28 a barrel for OPEC’s Reference Basket. This was after hovering around the top end of the price band in July and August.

Prices have been supported in the summer by the uncertainty about developments in Iraq, disruptions in some producing countries, low stocks and high natural gas prices in the United States of America. This has been in spite of the fact that there has been no shortage in the physical market for crude oil, as enquiries among our customers have confirmed. The recent weakening of the price has coincided with the end of the summer driving season. Nevertheless, the situation in the market remains relatively stable.

Our discussions, when examining the outlook for the oil market for the final quarter of this year, as well as next year, must take into consideration the state of the world economy. Low growth rates and increasing unemployment will not help demand. Forecasted increases in non-OPEC output will provide an added element of pressure on the call on OPEC oil.

This is why we are constantly reminding fellow producers outside our Organization of the need for consultations and coordination, in the interests of price stability at reasonable levels. OPEC cannot act alone. We have already seen our market share suffer in recent years, as we have sought to manage our production levels, to the benefit of all producers.

Over the past decade, some leading non-OPEC producers have been highly supportive of our market-stabilisation measures and this has contributed to their success in some very troubled times.

OPEC is, indeed, pleased to welcome observers from some of these countries at today’s Meeting — Angola, Egypt, Mexico, Oman, Russia and Syria. Their presence indicates a willingness to face up to the realities of the international oil market and to take the necessary measures to ensure that this central sector of the global economy performs in a satisfactory manner at all times.

It is with these thoughts that I now conclude these opening remarks.

Thank you.