Opening Remarks by the President of the OPEC Conference

Delivered by HE Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Industry; and President of the OPEC Conference, at the 7th OPEC International Seminar, 20 June 2018, Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning.

Welcome to Vienna’s Hofburg Palace for the 7th OPEC International Seminar, held under the theme ‘Petroleum – cooperation for a sustainable future’.

I would like to thank everyone here today for being part of this prestigious event.  As the President of the OPEC Conference, it is a tremendous honour to see so many Ministers from both producing and consuming countries, to have so many distinguished and high-level speakers on the agenda, and to welcome hundreds of delegates from all over the world.

I would like to thank our moderators – Eithne Treanor and John Defterios – for their introductions and to Professor Meghan O’ Sullivan for helping set the scene.

I would also like to offer great thanks to all those who have been involved in organizing this event, under the expert guidance of His Excellency Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, the OPEC Secretary General.  What we see before us today is a testament to their hard work.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The OPEC Seminar allows us to examine and discuss the main issues and opportunities concerning the oil industry.  It also provides an important event for us to pause and take stock of where our industry stands, today, in a global context.

In this regard, allow me to initially take you back to the last OPEC Seminar held in June 2015.

It was an extremely challenging time for the oil industry.  The world’s oil supply was significantly outpacing demand, prices were on a downward trend, and companies were slashing investments and jobs.

To many in the industry, it felt that the circumstances surrounding the downturn had completely overtaken their day-to-day work.  And there was more hardship to come.

Allow me to put what happened in some context:

The OPEC Reference Basket price fell by an extraordinary 80% between June 2014 and January 2016.

Investments were hit hard, with exploration and production spending falling by a massive 27% in both 2015 and 2016.  Overall, nearly one trillion dollars in investments were frozen or discontinued.

And stock levels continued to build and build.  Total OECD stock levels reached their highest level of over 3.1 billion barrels in July 2016.

The seriousness of these developments led OPEC to embark on extensive consultations among OPEC Member Countries and between OPEC and non-OPEC producing nations in 2016.

It was clear that there was a need for broad cooperation to turn the industry around, by bringing forward the rebalancing of the global oil market and helping build longer term sustainable market stability.  No-one could act alone.

The consultations gathered pace in the second half of 2016 and led to the historic production adjustment decisions reached by OPEC and participating non-OPEC producers at the end of 2016, or what is now known as the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’.

The past 18 months or so has shown it to be a great success, driven by the excellent conformity levels to the voluntary production adjustments.

It has reintroduced a long-absent element of stability to the market – there is now far more confidence, trust and certainty in our industry, compared to two years ago.

It is also a platform open to all producers.  It has evolved into a broader continuity partnership that can work for everyone, across all timeframes.

There is now global recognition that without this collaborative action, the market would have continued to exhibit extreme volatility and future uncertainty, with far-reaching negative consequences for producers, consumers, investors, the industry, and the global economy at large.

While acknowledging some very major achievements we have made to date, we are also aware that our work is ongoing.

We are continually monitoring the rebalancing process.  We continue to consult with all industry stakeholders, taking on board their views and concerns.  We will do what is necessary to maintain stability and support global energy security, in the interests of both producers and consumers.

One topic that I feel passionately about, and which is vital to maintaining stability in the future, is the return of more investment to our industry.

It is important to remember what happened to investment levels over the past few years, and the fact that the oil demand outlook continues to look robust in the years ahead.  We must not be short-sighted, or we risk a future period of volatility.

In addition, we also see tremendous value in institutionalizing this cooperation into a long-term framework for continuity.

Let me stress that OPEC’s commitment to market order and stability is unwavering.  We recognize that these are the key ingredients to a sustainable global energy future for both producers and consumers, and for this current generation and the coming ones.

It is also clear to us that what we have witnessed over the last few years underlines just how important collaboration is with all the main parties in the global petroleum sector.

In this regard, this OPEC Seminar is part of our ongoing effort to promote dialogue and cooperation with all industry stakeholders.

In addition, OPEC also recognizes the importance of developing new talent.  For this reason, it has invited students from Member Countries and Austria to attend the Seminar.  I should also like to welcome the young future leaders that have joined from ADNOC and Mubadala in the UAE.  We welcome these individuals who will likely carry the industry’s torch into the future.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Over the next two days you will hear presentations and debates on the main facets of the global energy scene.  Through the lively discussions that are sure to follow, we will undoubtedly learn from one another by exchanging valuable viewpoints.

I hope you all find the next day and a half an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

With that I would like to announce that the 7th OPEC International Seminar is now officially open.

Thank you for your attention.

HE Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Industry; and President of the OPEC Conference

HE Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Industry; and President of the OPEC Conference

Group photo of the officials attending the 7th OPEC International Seminar, taken at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria

Group photo of the officials attending the 7th OPEC International Seminar, taken at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria