Remarks by OPEC Secretary General at the 16th JMMC Meeting

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the 16th Meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), 12 September 2019, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

I would like to begin by thanking our Emirati hosts, who once again have afforded this committee the most outstanding generosity and gracious hospitality. Here in Abu Dhabi, one truly feels at home. This is also indicative of the steadfast support which the UAE has given the DoC since its inception.

I know I speak for all of us when I say that we are honoured and humbled to once again return to the fabled land of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, of blessed memory, and attend meetings of the JTC and JMMC, which, for the second time, are taking place in the great city of Abu Dhabi.

2019 is the “Year of Tolerance” in the UAE. As His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the current Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has said,

“The UAE is a place of tolerance, co-existence and openness to other cultures.”

These are profound words and we could not agree more. One remarkable Emirati who has embodied these ideals, applying them to our committee and in his role as OPEC Conference President last year, is HE Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei; someone who continues to be a tremendous asset to this group and has traversed the globe extolling the virtues of the “Declaration of Cooperation” process.

Your Excellency, thank you for your hospitality and your continued engagement in our noble mission.

I would also like to add my words of welcome to HE Timipre Sylva, Nigeria’s new Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. This is the Minister’s first meeting since taking up his new assignment and I am sure he will make a terrific contribution to our Committee and our Organization.

When I consider this unique group of countries participating in the “Declaration of Cooperation;” when I think of this Committee and its able leadership; when I reflect on the common journey we have embarked on together; I am reminded of the quote attributed to the genius 13th century author and philosopher, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi:

“Be courageous and discipline yourself. Work. Keep digging your well….Keep knocking and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there….There’s courage involved if you want to become truth.”

The DoC took courage. Rather than choose going it alone; we chose cooperation. Rather than giving up when the odds seemed stacked against us; we chose compromise and perseverance. Consistently, we reaffirmed our faith in the principles at the root of the multilateral order: equity, transparency and fairness.

We have deepened the roots of this Cooperation through the ‘Charter of Cooperation,’ which provides an institutional framework for our continued and intensified dialogue going forward.

I would like to commend the Chairmen of this distinguished Committee, His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Salman, and HE Alexander Novak, for personifying the noble virtues of courage, integrity and professionalism.

This is the first time we convene under the chairmanship of His Royal Highness; a gentleman who for the past 32 years has consistently been the face of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at OPEC, representing the country in the best possible light; a consummate diplomat, a skilled negotiator, an inspirational leader, and a true oil industry expert.

His Royal Highness has been instrumental in steering negotiations for the adoption of several landmark OPEC Declarations, acting as Chairman of the Committee that drafted the Solemn Declaration at the Second OPEC Summit which took place in Caracas, Venezuela on 27th and 28th September 2000. He did such an outstanding job in this capacity that he also served as Chairman of the Committee that drafted the Riyadh Declaration at the Third OPEC Summit, which took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on the 17th and 18th November 2007. When OPEC decided to develop a Long-Term Strategy and needed a committee to midwife its birth, we, inevitably, turned to the ever-dependable Prince Abdul Aziz. He is currently one of the three longest serving delegates to OPEC.

We also recall back in the 1980s, when dialogue between producers and consumers seemed like a pipe-dream, Prince Abdul Aziz was one of its pioneers and champions. Small wonder then that this true visionary midwifed the International Energy Forum.

In 2015, when the oil market was in depths of one of the worst downturns in its history, His Royal Highness passionately advocated joint action between OPEC and the Russian Federation. The seed which the Prince planted gestated into the Algiers Accord of 28 September 2016, which he co-authored; metamorphosing into the Vienna Agreement of 30 November 2016 and the historic ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ of 10 December 2016; and has now blossomed into the ‘Charter of Cooperation,’ endorsed by 24 countries on 2 July 2019.

These Declarations, decisions and events are integral to our Organization’s raison d'être and a cherished part of our heritage. Therefore, one can truly say that Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Salman is also part of our heritage, and he will play an indispensable role in our bright future. His appointment came as no surprise to those familiar with his own remarkable journey and was greeted with universal acclaim from all stakeholders, as well as eliciting a positive reaction in the market.

On behalf of the rest of the Committee and the OPEC Secretariat, allow me to offer our assurances to His Royal Highness that he can count on our unwavering commitment and support as he embarks on the enormous responsibility of his new role. We will render every assistance he may require in his new function.

Your Royal Highness — you can count on us.

I would also like to pay tribute and give credit to whom they are due, HE Khalid Al-Falih. We are all conscious of the role which he played in making the DoC process a resounding success. Everyone in the OPEC-plus family owes him a debt of gratitude and the history books will judge him highly and favourably.

Khalid Al-Falih’s tenure coincided with extraordinary events in the oil industry and was replete with accomplishment: from arresting the free fall in market fundamentals in 2016, to the Algiers Accord, the Vienna Agreement, the DoC and, of course, the ‘Charter of Cooperation.’ I would particularly like to highlight his Presidency of the OPEC Conference in the critically important year of 2017. Such was the strength of his performance that he was recognised with the ‘International Oil Diplomacy Person of the Year 2017’ Award at the Energy Institute’s International Petroleum (IP) Week.

Navigating the first year of implementing our production adjustments was an arduous challenge, but it was one which Khalid Al-Falih rose to admirably. The ultimate testament to his skills, diplomatic tact and commitment is the fact that monthly conformity levels with the voluntary adjustments in production averaged an astonishing 107% throughout 2017, a level unprecedented in the history of our Organization. He applied the same vigour, rigour and commitment following his appointment as Chairman of the JMMC from January 2018.

Throughout this momentous journey, Khalid Al-Falih demonstrated a mastery of the oil market; astute diplomatic skill and the art of statecraft. His focus on our common goal, namely the urgent restoration of market stability, was unwavering. He demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s firm commitment by ensuring that its high conformity with our voluntary production adjustments remained sacrosanct. As traders would say, “his word is his bond.” He was persistent, yet flexible and adaptable.

The old adage tells us that: “Courage is the foundation of integrity”. Khalid Al-Falih has both in abundance.

On behalf of the entire OPEC plus, we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Allow me to conclude by once again, sincerely thanking our Emirati hosts and I wish us all a successful meeting.

Thank you for your kind attention.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, delivers his remarks

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, delivers his remarks

Group photo of OPEC and non-OPEC officials taken at the 16th JMMC meeting in Abu Dhabi

Group photo of OPEC and non-OPEC officials taken at the 16th JMMC meeting in Abu Dhabi

The 16th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee takes place in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The 16th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee takes place in Abu Dhabi, UAE