Welcoming Remarks by OPEC Secretary General

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the 7th OPEC International Seminar, 20 June 2018, Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Guten Morgen … Good morning.

I would like to welcome you all to the 7th OPEC International Seminar and the beautiful Hofburg Palace.  It is a tremendous privilege and honour for me to personally welcome our moderators, all our speakers, all our sponsors, and of course all the hundreds of delegates I see before me this morning.

This year’s OPEC Seminar is the first to bring together so many producers, from OPEC and non-OPEC producers, as well as major consuming nations, elevating this 7th OPEC Seminar to a new level.  They will speak alongside CEOs of national oil companies, international oil companies, independents, service companies and major think tanks; we have the heads of other international organizations; the head of the UNFCCC, IEA, IEF, GECF and, a host of eminent industry stakeholders.

I could go on.  It is really a who’s who of global oil and energy industry leaders.  The wisdom and insights of these leaders will undoubtedly provide for rich and engaging discussions.

The splendid palatial Hofburg that hosts our Seminar was the residence of Austrian sovereigns for over 600 years – the bastion of the House of Habsburg, and a focal point for the entire continent of Europe.

A great deal of European history was written at the Hofburg Palace.  It was here where the Congress of Vienna met in 1814 and 1815, a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by legendary Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich.  It was a meeting that many have credited as having created long-term stability across Europe.

In fact, Austria has a rich legacy of uniting people.  This has not only been through its great diplomacy, which continues today, but also through marriage!  As the famous saying goes: ‘Let others wage war: thou, happy Austria, marry’.

This emphasis on dialogue, and bringing people together, makes this venue an entirely appropriate location for this Seminar, with its central theme: ‘Petroleum – cooperation for a sustainable future’.

In addition, it is also a fitting location to recognize the landmark ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ between 24 OPEC and non-OPEC nations that was initially put together in December 2016.

The impact of the historic cooperation has exceeded even the most optimistic of predictions.  We have not only turned a historic page, but a new glorious chapter is being authored in the history of the industry by OPEC and its non-OPEC partners.

Bringing together 24 producing nations is unparalleled in the history of the oil industry.  It is also a platform that is open to all producers.

The historic ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ literally rescued the oil industry from its worst ever downturn and now constitutes a fundamental and essential feature of the ‘new world of energy’.

Over the last 18 months, this cooperation has helped return more balance to the oil market, more optimism to the industry and has had a positive impact on the global economy and trade worldwide.

It has enabled industry investment to gradually pick up, albeit not yet to pre-2014/15 levels, and has resulted in many jobs returning and unemployment easing.

The importance of the Declaration has also received backing from other producers, as well as from consuming nations.

And it has also caused a significant change in industry-wide and public perceptions of OPEC.  The Organization has ably demonstrated its credentials as a body committed to international cooperation, working with other producers, honouring its commitments and promoting mutual respect among all nations.

The Declaration underscores what can be accomplished through a constructive, continuous and fully committed approach to helping achieve a sustainable oil market stability.

However, we appreciate that our work never stops!  We are fully committed to sustaining balance and stability in the market, in the interests of both producers and consumers.

In the coming months, we will look to institutionalize this long-term framework for continuity with an all-inclusive and broad-based participation, to look at some of the industry’s pertinent challenges, as well as the opportunities.

Just as the Congress of Vienna helped return stability to Europe, we also believe that the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ has laid the foundation for longer term sustainable oil market stability.

It should be borne in mind that oil has played an indispensable role in fueling our modern civilization, stimulating economic growth, development and helping elevate billions of peoples across continents out of poverty.

And this essential fuel will no doubt be vital to future generations. We should not forget that today around 3 billion do not have clean fuels for cooking, and 1.1 billion have no access to electricity, something that all of us here take for granted.

When we start up our cars, switch on a light, turn on our mobile phones, we need to recognize that these everyday things are still unknown to billions of people across the world who continue to suffer from energy poverty.  It is a universal obligation to address this major challenge in the energy transition.  The future of oil and mankind are inextricably linked.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The importance of sustainable stability will no doubt be apparent over the course of this Seminar, as we tackle such issues as evolving a sustainable energy future; technology breakthroughs; the energy transition; the environment; oil industry challenges; investments; and, the global economy.

What is central to all of these topics is one word: cooperation.

It is vital all stakeholders work together to meet the challenges, as well as the opportunities before us, as the overall theme of the Seminar underscores.

As history has shown us, working together can help us build bridges, and achieve great things.  As the great English poet John Donne aptly said:

“No man is an island entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

With that I would like to wish all participants every success with the Seminar.  Enjoy the event, interact and make the most of everything on offer.

I hope everyone leaves the 7th OPEC International Seminar proud to know that they are truly valued members of our OPEC family.

May the spirit of Vienna, this city of peace and dialogue, inspire us all.

Thank you.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

The 7th OPEC International Seminar takes place at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria

The 7th OPEC International Seminar takes place at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria