Remarks by OPEC Secretary General at the 13th JMMC Meeting

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the 13th Meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), 18 March 2019, Baku, Azerbaijan.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished delegates,


Permit me to thank the Ministers for their wise and eloquent words, and add a few of my own.

The emerging consensus from the jury is that the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ has ushered in a new, successful chapter in the long history of oil. And as we contextualise our work within the history of our industry, I can think of few more fitting locations for a meeting of the JMMC than Baku, a city that has been synonymous with oil for centuries, if not millennia.

Our industry is acutely conscious of the tremendous debt we owe this city, this nation and this region. From as early as the tenth century, medieval writers and explorers recorded their observations about the supply of oil in Azerbaijan. The use of oil from this region is also described with admiration in the works of famous 12th-century poet Nizami Ganjavi and by the 13th-century Venetian explorer, Marco Polo; for the goods and products of Azerbaijani towns and settlements spread along the Great Silk Roads with tremendous success as a trade route.

And it was in Baku, during the great Oil Boom throughout the latter half of the 19th century, that some of the greatest geologists, chemists, entrepreneurs and inventors which our industry has ever known, thrived and fundamentally changed our industry forever. In 1846, more than a decade before ‘Colonel’ Edwin L. Drake struck oil on American soil for the first time, a 21 meter well was drilled in Bibi-Heybat for oil exploration--the first successfully drilled oil well in human history.

In 1876, Konon Lisenko, Chair of Chemistry for the St. Petersburg Mining Institute, visited Baku to study the oil industry. As a result of his findings, he published a monograph in St. Petersburg called "Oil Production, According to the Latest Data." This seminal monograph was one of the first original oil-related publications ever written. OPEC’s own publications, for example our WOO and MOMR, continue a noble tradition that began in Baku.

In 1877, in a development which literally revolutionized our industry, the Nobel brothers, Robert and Ludwig, built the first oil tanker ship in Baku, the Zoroaster. Consider how this innovation has determined the nature of the deployment of tankers to fulfil the requirements of major maritime operations over the last 142 years.

These are but a few highlights of the vast array of technological innovations that originate from Baku which shape the oil industry as we know it today; for this is truly a city of firsts: it was also the site of the first wooden oil derrick in 1871 and the first distillery in 1876. Therefore, I know I speak on behalf of all of us as keen students of the history of oil, when I say that it is an absolute joy to convene our meeting in Baku, the cradle of the oil industry.

Allow me to sincerely thank our Azerbaijani hosts, HE President Ilham Aliyev and our dear friend, HE Parviz Shahbazov, Minister of Energy. Given this is the city of oil industry firsts, it is small wonder that Azerbaijan’s President, HE Ilham Aliyev, was the first world leader to publically call upon OPEC and non-OPEC to close ranks and collaborate in order to rescue the oil industry. His visionary leadership honours his country’s incredible history. President Aliyev is a steadfast supporter of the “Declaration of Cooperation” and the partnership between OPEC and Azerbaijan has never been stronger. I’d also like to commend Minister Shahbazov for his tireless dedication to our common endeavours and the outstanding arrangements for our meetings this week. It is very clear to all of us why Azerbaijani hospitality is so world renowned.

I’d also like to pay tribute to another great friend, HE Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez, the People’s Minister of Petroleum of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who has made a tremendous start to his tenure as President of the OPEC Conference 2019. I am very pleased that you have joined us today which further affirms your commitment to our great noble endeavour.

Finally, it is a factual certainty that future books on the oil industry will have a chapter on the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ process. Two of the protagonists of this glorious chapter are the co-chairmen of our JMMC, HE Khalid A. Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and HE Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation.  As tomorrow’s historians chronicle this remarkable journey, the wisdom, dedication to public service and international cooperation that these two gentlemen consistently demonstrate will be written in stone. I commend their steadfast leadership, which has ensured that the JMMC, the umbilical cord between OPEC and non-OPEC, is unified, highly motivated and purpose-driven.

The city of Baku has centuries of experience of fostering dialogue and innovation. May the spirit of Baku, the city of firsts, inspire our work today and throughout 2019.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General (second l), delivers his remarks

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General (second l), delivers his remarks

The JMMC holds its 13th meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan

The JMMC holds its 13th meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan