Opening remarks by OPEC Secretary General at the 13th High-Level Meeting of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the 13th High-Level Meeting of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue, 22 November 2018, Brussels, Belgium.


Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning.

It is a pleasure to be back here in the bustling European capital of Brussels for this 13th High-Level Meeting of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue.

Before I proceed, allow me to recognize and thank our hosts from the European Union, namely Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy from the European Commission. I would also like to extend our words of appreciation to Mr. Dominique Ristori, Director-General at the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission, who has been instrumental in promoting the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue since its inception. I met him during our Dialogue process in 2006. Allow me to also express my appreciation to the Commissioner’s staff for hosting our proceedings here today.

Additionally, I would like to thank Her Excellency, Dr. Karin Kneissl, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Austria, for taking the time to be here earlier and express her support for this Dialogue.

Her presence here has special significance as Austria currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and, of course, is the Host Country for OPEC.

It is also worth noting, since we are here in the political heart of Europe, that OPEC has been based on this Continent since 1961 when it moved to Geneva after its founding in Baghdad in 1960. From Geneva, OPEC moved its headquarters to Vienna in 1965, where it has been ever since.

It has indeed been a long and fruitful relationship, and will certainly continue to be so in the years ahead. So, on behalf of OPEC, allow me to say Danke Frau Doktor Kneissl and Danke Austria!

Ladies and gentlemen,

The EU-OPEC High-level Dialogue, now in its 13th year, has become a fixed point on our calendars. Since its inception in 2005, we have seen this process of dialogue and cooperation flourish and grow at all levels through the development and evolution of joint activities, workshops, roundtables and reports.

The recent and momentous developments of OPEC and its non-OPEC partners of the Declaration of Cooperation are a clear demonstration of the vital need for and indeed the power of dialogue and close collaboration among all stakeholders in today’s energy industry.

The highly successful efforts spurred on by the Declaration of Cooperation virtually rescued a global oil industry that was on the brink of collapse.

Today, thanks in large part to these heroic efforts, we have a transformed industry — fundamentals are generally back on solid ground, and the market is more stable and optimistic. And this has resulted in a slow but steady reawakening of investment across the industry, providing support to the global economy.

This brightened outlook does not, however, preclude the recurrence of challenges on the horizon. And, as we have learned over and over again through history, the oil market is cyclical and complex, and one must always be prepared for the unknown.

While global economic growth remains on solid footing, it does face some potential headwinds. Following a period of relatively synchronized growth, the economic growth trends between, and within, major regions have begun to diverge.

Although growth in the major OECD economies remains healthy, slowing trends have become apparent in some emerging markets and developing countries, the EMDCs. Contributing factors include some monetary tightening of the G4 central banks, weakening financial reports from some EMDCs, rising global trade disputes and geopolitical challenges.

With this backdrop, OPEC’s global economic growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019 have recently been revised down slightly by 0.1 percentage points to now stand at 3.7% and 3.5%, respectively.

This could, of course, have repercussions for global oil demand. According to the November edition of the MOMR, world oil demand growth in 2018 is now forecast at 1.50 mb/d. For 2019, projections for growth are lower at 1.29 mb/d. This is mainly due to economic adjustments in the non-OECD region and, more generally, related to uncertainties regarding the overall global economic development.

Another factor is related to concerns expressed by consumers with regard to the supply outlook, however, OPEC currently views the market as adequately supplied and well-balanced, though in a somewhat fragile state. For 2019, we do see growing potential for imbalance, due to feasibly larger-than-anticipated growth in supply.

OPEC, as always, will remain vigilant in monitoring the market in the weeks and months ahead to stay on top of the latest developments.

In the meantime, working closely with like-minded stakeholders and sharing outlooks and viewpoints on industry issues as we are doing here today are of utmost importance.

Indeed, this is the driving force behind this and the other dialogues that OPEC conducts with international partners such as Russia, China, India and more recently the United States.

In looking at the agenda, this morning’s session will provide us with a valuable opportunity to look at the short-term and long-term oil and energy market outlooks, as well as some of the latest developments in relation to EU energy and economic policies.

I am certain that these presentations and deliberations will help to further reinforce the cooperation between our two parties. This exchange of information and outlooks, and the sharing of viewpoints will help us to continue to find common ground and advance mutual understanding, not only of the issues of the day, but of each other’s Organizations and goals.

Will this in mind, the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue is well positioned to move from strength to strength in the months and years ahead.

In closing, I wish everyone a productive and fruitful meeting here today.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy (r); and HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

Mr. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy (r); and HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

(r-l) HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General; HE Dr. Karin Kneissl, Austria's Foreign Minister; and Mr. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy

(r-l) HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General; HE Dr. Karin Kneissl, Austria's Foreign Minister; and Mr. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy

Group photo of the EU and OPEC delegates taken in Brussels, Belgium

Group photo of the EU and OPEC delegates taken in Brussels, Belgium