Opening address to the 163rd Meeting of the OPEC Conference

No 1/2013
Vienna, Austria
31 May 2013

by HE Dr Abdel Bari Ali Al-Arousi, Minister of Oil & Gas of Libya and Alternate President of the OPEC Conference

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to Vienna for the 163rd Meeting of the OPEC Conference, with a special welcome to the two new Ministers who are attending the Conference for the first time as Heads of their Countries' Delegations.  They are His Excellency Pedro Merizalde-Pavón, Minister of Non-Renewable Natural Resources of Ecuador, and His Excellency Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy of the United Arab Emirates.  We welcome you both and look forward to benefiting from your contributions to this and future meetings.

Whilst the Delegation of Kuwait is, today, being led by the Country's Governor for OPEC, it is my pleasure to announce that we also have a new colleague in Kuwait, HE Mustafa Al-Shamali having been appointed Acting Minister of Oil just three days ago - we look forward to welcoming him to our future Meetings and wish him every success in his assignment.

I would also like to thank their predecessors in office, His Excellency Wilson Pástor-Morris of Ecuador; HE Hani Abdulaziz Hussain of Kuwait; and His Excellency Mohamed bin Dhaen Al Hamli of the UAE, for their contributions to the Conference during their time in office.  We wish them well in their future assignments.

Also, on behalf of the Organization and our Member Countries, I should like to express our deepest condolences to the Government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the sad loss of their President, His Excellency Hugo Chávez Frías, who passed away on 5th March 2013 after a long battle with cancer. 

Additionally, I should like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the loss of life and damage caused by the earthquakes that have hit their country recently.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, more than five months have passed since we last met to review the situation in the oil market, the impact of the recent developments and how the market behaved in the face of the many challenges during this period.  Since that time, there have been continuing fluctuations in the oil price, with a general downward trend in the last few months. In mid-April, we saw the reference basket price reach US$98 a barrel. It then fluctuated for the remainder of the month, ending at US$101.05/bbl from US$106.86/bbl, a drop of US$5.81/bbl (5.75%) and is presently averaging at US$100.85/bbl.

These fluctuations are a reflection of the continued uncertainty stemming from the slow pace of global economic growth, continued Euro-zone debt crises, high unemployment in advanced economies and the risk of inflation in developing countries. These factors have contributed to dampening what appeared as a clear momentum in global economic recovery at the beginning of the year. This has, however, not affected our economic growth forecast of 3.2% for the year.

Overall in 2013, the world oil demand growth forecast is expected to increase by 0.8 mb/d. Total non-OPEC supply has seen a slight upward adjustment to 1.0 mb/d for the year while OPEC natural gas liquids and non-conventional oils are also expected to grow by 0.2%. This situation is likely to continue through the third and into the fourth quarters as we head into the driving season.

Having said that, given the prevailing global economic situation, OPEC will, as always, closely monitor developments in the oil market in the coming months. It will also continue its efforts to achieve a stable oil market by ensuring that the market is well supplied to meet demand from consumers at fair and reasonable prices.

At today's meeting, we will have an opportunity to examine closely these important issues regarding the market outlook for the rest of this year and beyond. Our focus will remain on doing all we can to provide stability in the market. This stability will benefit all stakeholders and contribute to growth in the world economy.

However, as we have repeatedly said, this is not a job for OPEC alone. Every stakeholder has a part to play in achieving this. Together, through cooperation and dialogue, we can achieve our goal.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your attention.