Introductory Remarks to the Extraordinary IEF Ministerial Meeting

by HE Abdalla S. El-Badri, OPEC Secretary General, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 22 February 2011

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here today to recognize the significant work that has been undertaken this past year by experts from the IEF, the IEA and OPEC in implementing the Cancun Ministerial Declaration, and to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the producer-consumer dialogue that started in Paris in 1991.  This follows our own major milestone last year: OPEC's 50th Anniversary.

The IEF has come a long way in the past 20 years.  Those early ad-hoc meetings of producers and consumers have now been replaced by more focused workshops and ministerial forums.  At the same time, however, the informal nature of the dialogue has remained.  The IEF now has its own Secretariat, here in Riyadh, which is also home to the important JODI initiative.  Following the Cancun Declaration, we have witnessed, over the past year, the formulation of an IEF Charter and the development of agreed activities between the IEF, the IEA and OPEC.

OPEC is proud to have played a role in all this.  We appreciate the informal nature of the dialogue and, over the years, have actively contributed to ideas and analysis, as well as the exchange of views between various stakeholders.

The IEF's informal producer-consumer dialogue has become an essential ingredient to ensure market stability, improve transparency and provide greater predictability.  The focus must be on understanding the needs of each stakeholder and viewing the entire energy market holistically.  In an increasingly interdependent world, the importance of such needs cannot be overstated.  It is crucial to remember that energy security is a two-way street.  Security of demand is as important to producers as security of supply is to consumers.  The two need to go hand-in-hand.

It is also important to continue working towards ensuring access of the poor to modern energy services: isn't it unacceptable that, today, 1.5 billion people have no access to electricity and that 2.6 billion still continue to rely on traditional biomass for cooking?

Today's Extraordinary Meeting underscores some of the benefits associated with the dialogue, which are a direct result of the Cancun Ministerial Declaration.  As I have already mentioned, the Declaration, itself put together taking into account inputs and viewpoints from a variety of stakeholders, identified a number of areas for cooperation between the IEF, the IEA and OPEC.

From OPEC's perspective, we are pleased to see that these words and recommendations have been turned into concrete actions.  This includes joint activities and reports concerning the linkages between physical and financial markets, energy market regulation and energy market trends and outlooks.  The results of these activities you will hear about today.

I would also like to stress that it is essential we continue to work toward the proper and full implementation of the agreed upon areas of cooperation.  Our efforts should be dedicated to this, so that we can fully achieve what was laid out in the Cancun Ministerial Declaration.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IEF has already shown how the producer-consumer dialogue can help the industry meet some of the challenges it faces head on, specifically by bringing people and organizations together.  We have nothing to lose but we have a lot to gain from dialogue and OPEC remains fully committed to this path.

Thank you for your attention.