Absque Labore Nihil - Nothing can be achieved without work

OPEC Bulletin Commentary July-August 2019


Phrases in the Latin language have never really been out of vogue, but they are enjoying a renewed prestige in recent times. Given momentous events at OPEC over the last few months, how would one best summarize the achievements, particularly those which came from 176th Meeting of the OPEC Conference and the 6th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting.

Reflecting on the preparations and outcomes of these seminal meetings, one ancient phrase does immediately spring to mind, and Latin is much more succinct and evocative than English in bringing together the many threads that have been apparent in OPEC’s activities over the last few months:

Absque Labore Nihil.

The literal translation is “without work, nothing,” and in three words it denotes that it is impossible to achieve anything in life without hard work and intense effort.

Sustainable oil market stability is a noble goal, but it can never be realized without teamwork and a strategy. Agreement has to be reached and a tremendous amount of effort was exerted in bringing the participating countries together and reaching consensus. This was indeed the case during recent ministerial meetings, as once again Ministers from participating countries engaged in frank and open discussions.

Implementing the voluntary production adjustments requires a tremendous amount of hard work. The challenge before participating countries is to continue to do this for nine more months. Yet, conformity with the voluntary production adjustments has hitherto been at record highs and participating countries were vocal in offering their assurances that individual and collective conformity would be high going forward. Commitments will continue to be effectively monitored by the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) and its Joint Technical Committee. The JMMC was tasked with reporting back on progress to the Conference.

In another notable development, as explained in the communiqué from the 6th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting, participating countries “emphasized the support and commitment of all participating countries in the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ to build on the success achieved thus far, and endorsed the draft text of the ‘Charter of Cooperation’, a high-level voluntary commitment, to enable the continued proactive dialogue between countries in the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ at both ministerial and technical levels. The Meeting requests all participating countries to take the draft text through their respective national process.” The ‘Charter of Cooperation’ marks a new era for participating countries, providing a more concrete form to the aspirations of the partners to work hand-in-glove to resolve future challenges and develop opportunities.

And another outcome from the 176th OPEC Conference also underscored why ‘hard work’ has been such an essential component of the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’. The OPEC Secretary General, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, had another term of three years approved. Throughout his tenure, the Secretary General has been the very personification of tireless stamina. His shuttle diplomacy has been critical in securing the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’; its subsequent successful implementation and evolution to the ‘Charter of Cooperation’.

The logistical organization of all of the meetings in the week beginning June 30, 2019, also involved a tremendous amount of work, involving ministerial support teams, the staff at the OPEC Secretariat, relevant counterparts from the Austrian hosts and many others. This has involved long hours at the office and the occasional sleepless night, nevertheless, the results speak for themselves. As a consequence of everyone pulling their weight, the oil market is in a better position today than it was in December 2016. The OPEC Bulletin salutes this outcome — Absque Labore Nihil.

OPEC Bulletin July-August 2019

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