Opening Statement by OPEC Secretary General at the Ninth IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the Ninth IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks, 27 February 2019, IEF Secretariat, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to return to Riyadh for this ninth edition of the IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks.

I’d like to thank HE Khalid A. Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, for his magnificent articulation of the importance of this symposium. We all remain indebted to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, not only for today’s generous hospitality but also the country’s tireless devotion to promoting international cooperation and oil market stability.

As a leading light for the historic ‘Declaration of Cooperation,’ HE Al-Falih has repeatedly demonstrated his impeccable credentials as an extremely hard-working statesman, well-versed in the art of oil diplomacy and indeed a great achiever in his career. These qualities have ensured that under his chairmanship, OPEC’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee has evolved into the essential umbilical cord between OPEC and non-OPEC. No wonder the industry and participating countries breathed a collective sigh of relief when he agreed to continue to chair the JMMC.

May I also join HE Khalid Al-Falih and HE Sun in welcoming the President of the OPEC Conference, HE Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez, Venezuela’s People's Minister of Petroleum, who arrived in the early hours of this morning to be able to join us. I also would like to welcome HE Shaikh Mohamed Al-Khalifa, Minister of Oil of Bahrain, a strong advocate of the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ and strong supporter of OPEC.

I am delighted to share the floor with the ‘symposiarch’ of our symposium, my twin brother HE Sun Xiansheng, Secretary General of the International Energy Forum. His boundless energy and captivating positivity have elevated the IEF to new levels of accomplishment, admiration and acclaim. Allow me to wish him many more years of selfless service to the IEF and its Member Countries.

It is also a great pleasure to be joined by Keisuke Sadamori, Energy Markets and Security Director of the IEA, another great advocate of consumer-producer dialogue. Keisuke-san has been a longtime colleague and evergreen friend  ̶  an extremely active ambassador for the IEA, who represents the best features of this great Agency.

Allow me to offer my welcome to all government officials and captains of industry, including representatives from the GECF, KAPSARC, KFAS, and OFID, in attendance today. Your presence will no doubt enrich our discussions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Energy outlooks are an essential component of our Organizations’ work. Comprehensive, accurate and fact-based analysis is crucial in supporting policy-makers in taking informed decisions, especially in current circumstances.

Unfortunately, the oil market can often be subjected to forces which are not grounded in fact, especially at times of disconnect between prices and market fundamentals. Sentiment, speculation and even rumors have been known to drive the market. The situation can be further complicated by computerized or automated trading, with algorithms, Big Data and AI playing important roles.

Energy outlooks are an antidote for this post-factual age. Indeed, our common currency, as it were, is fact-based data.

Our industry is currently under siege from multiple fronts. Yet, some of these comments have tended to mischaracterize our objectives and misrepresent market realities.

A classic example of this is the persistent notion that oil is on the verge of demise. According to this belief, renewables are about to completely replace hydrocarbons and those who seek to discuss the nuances of this idea are downplaying the climate challenge.

At OPEC, we are acutely conscious of the challenge of climate change. Our Member Countries continue to take appropriate policies, implement programmes and projects to tackle the challenges of climate change.

At the most recent UN Climate Change Conference COP24 in Katowice, OPEC reiterated that it remains fully engaged and supportive of the Paris Agreement. Indeed, some of our Member Countries heavily invest in alternative sources of energy. For example, Saudi Arabia plans to generate some 59 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from solar and wind by 2030, and eventually produce upward of 200 GW from renewable sources.

However, this is not a race to renewables alone; it’s a race to lower greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, OPEC emphasizes the importance of energy efficiency and its great enabler, technological innovation.

Given how our industry can be mischaracterized, the need for dialogue is all the greater. Consider the Ancient Greek roots of the word: ‘dia’ meaning through and ‘logos’ meaning reason or speech.

Dialogue: through reason.

And reasoned discussion, based on factual analysis, is crucial in this age of ‘alternative facts.’

Dialogue fosters transparency, which is another priority for our Organization. OPEC truly is an ‘open book.’ All our publications and data are available online, accessible via digital Apps to the general public free of charge.

Dialogue and transparency are indispensable to the multilateral system. OPEC will always align with the values at the heart of the multilateral system and affirms absolute conformity between its activities and principles, and the ideals of the UN. We are an intergovernmental organization which has been registered at the UN Secretariat since 6 November 1962.

These noble principles manifest themselves in the historic new chapter heralded in the oil industry through the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ process. A win-win situation has developed and made a substantial contribution to the synchronous global economic growth seen in 2017-18.

Intensive discussions on further institutionalizing our cooperation are currently underway, as we finalize the draft ‘Charter of Cooperation.’ Given the achievements to date, it is no wonder that all parties are enthusiastic to further cement our cooperation through a collaborative approach.

Looking forward, there can be no doubt that with the GCEF, IEF, IEA and OPEC working together, guided by reason, supported by facts, we can continue to meaningfully contribute to the industry and the global economy.

May this spirit of collegiality guide our discussions today and always.

HE Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez, Venezuela's People's Minister of Petroleum, and President of the OPEC Conference (l); with HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

HE Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez, Venezuela's People's Minister of Petroleum, and President of the OPEC Conference (l); with HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

The Ninth IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The Ninth IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Group photo of the participants at the Symposium in Riyadh

Group photo of the participants at the Symposium in Riyadh