Thank you Austria – thank you Vienna!

OPEC Bulletin Commentary September 2015

September 1st 2015 marked a special occasion in OPEC’s long and eventful history. For it was on this day half a century ago that the Organization first arrived in the Austrian capital, Vienna after spending its first five years in the Swiss Canton of Geneva. The Austrian government, still rebuilding after the ravages of the World War II, was keen to attract international organizations to its capital and hence offered the Organization more attractive terms than it had in Geneva. It resulted in OPEC becoming the third international organization to set up offices in Vienna after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

For the record, OPEC’s first address in Vienna was Möllwaldplatz 5 in the city’s fourth district, where it busied itself appointing new members of staff to support its fledgling activities and initiatives. Just over a year later, with the expansion continuing, it moved to more spacious premises at Dr-Karl-Lueger-Ring 10 (now Universitätsring) in the central first district, where it remained for a decade. In 1977, again needing more office space to support its growing workforce, especially for its research undertaking, it relocated to Obere Donaustrasse 93 in the second district, where it stayed for 32 years. The year 2009 saw OPEC move back to the first district — to its current eight-storey headquarters at Helferstorferstrasse 17.

The decision for the Organization to move to Vienna was approved under a Host Agreement at the 8th (Extraordinary) Meeting of the OPEC Conference, held in Geneva in April 1965. OPEC’s first meeting in Vienna — the 10th Meeting of the Conference — was convened in December 1965. It represented the start of a long and prosperous relationship that has seen ties between OPEC and Austria go from strength to strength. This has been extremely beneficial to both sides. For Vienna, OPEC’s presence in the country, other than its international standing, represents huge economic benefits.

The fact is that up to September this year, 95 of the Organization’s 167 Ministerial Conferences have been held in the capital. Each one of these meetings has attracted a large number of delegates from OPEC Member Countries, in addition to numerous analysts, experts and many representatives from the international media. But it does not end there. To date, OPEC has held six international seminars in Vienna, the last four of which have been at the historic Hofburg Palace. Attendees to the last seminar held in June this year numbered over 800, for example. In addition to this, OPEC convenes regular workshops, roundtables and high-level meetings in Vienna with other interested parties associated with the global energy sector. All in all, it is very lucrative for Austria.

But it is by no means a one-way street. The advantages OPEC gains from being in Vienna are immeasurable. One of the most important aspects for any successful operation is to be able to work and prosper in a functional, creative and enabling environment. In this regard, what Austria and Vienna offer is second to none. The fact the capital is regularly voted as the top city in the world for ‘livability’ speaks volumes. It is also a cultural haven and blessed with so many amenities. This, in turn, creates the perfect conditions for the Organization to conduct its business in, business that is invariably challenging. At all times, OPEC is aware of the level of professionalism and care attached to it being in Vienna. There is a real sense of belonging.

In all means that, today, OPEC celebrates its 50th anniversary in Austria with a true feeling of achievement and genuine satisfaction. Few would have believed half a century ago that the Organization would have risen to the heights it has today in the global energy arena. Apart from developing into one of the most important and influential organizations on the world stage, OPEC’s growth, assertiveness and sense of responsibility have demonstrated to other developing countries the world over what can be achieved through a collective will, perseverance and dedication when the cause is just — protecting one’s sovereign rights.

The Organization’s aims and objectives remain as true today as they did in September 1960 when five developing countries, determined to exercise control over their own destinies, took part in a landmark meeting in Iraq, Baghdad, that signaled the birth of the Organization. OPEC still seeks to secure a steady supply of crude oil to its consumers at reasonable prices and it still aims for fair returns for investors in the industry. But the world today is a much more integrated, interconnected and interdependent arena than it was 50 years ago, necessitating a broadening of its scope of activities. Each year, the transition continues.

Many people have contributed to OPEC’s success over the years, but none more so than the authorities of the Republic of Austria and City of Vienna. The Organization will forever be grateful to the visionaries that 50 years ago asked OPEC to make Vienna its home. Austria’s exemplary support, which without question enables OPEC to function at its best, will always be held in the highest regard. On this special occasion, OPEC pays tribute to its warm and generous hosts — and to a grand and unique city.

Thank you Austria – thank you Vienna!

OPEC Bulletin September 2015

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