Opening remarks by OPEC Secretary General

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the 14th High-level Meeting of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue, 27 October 2020, via videoconference.

Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon and welcome to this 14th High-level Meeting of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue.

It seems hard to imagine during these times of a global health pandemic that our last meeting in November of 2018 was held in person at the EU headquarters in Brussels. What seemed normal then, seems unrealistic now.

I am sure you will agree that we all miss those days in which we could gather together face to face to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern, but we must move on and adapt to the ever-evolving realities that this pandemic has ushered in -- what many are terming the “new normal.”

Before I proceed, allow me to recognize Her Excellency, Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy from the European Commission.

I had the pleasure of holding a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Simson via videoconference on 7 May 2020. Our discussions focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, which was wreaking havoc on the global economy and the oil market. We also discussed current and future plans for the ongoing EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue, which included the scheduling of this 14th High-level Meeting today.

Commissioner, allow me to commend the EU’s proactive efforts in confronting the human and economic consequences of this pandemic. Your close collaboration with the energy industry has helped ensure security of vital energy supplies to stakeholders across Europe.

I also laud the EU for the leadership role it continues to play in addressing climate change. OPEC continues to advocate for an all-inclusive solution to the twin challenges of energy access and climate change. There is simply no one energy source that can address the dual needs of energy poverty and future growth.

I am also very pleased to welcome representatives of other countries in the OPEC-non-OPEC Declaration of Cooperation who are attending this meeting. This is a testament to the importance and high level of interest that our Member Countries and the DoC Members have in this and other energy dialogues OPEC holds with its global stakeholders.

Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,

This energy dialogue with the EU dates back to 2005 and is the first energy dialogue that was established by OPEC to provide a platform for producer-consumer cooperation.

In the years since, OPEC has expanded its portfolio to include dialogues with China, India, Russia, and the US, as well as with international organizations and global corporations.

These events have proven to be highly effective in promoting mutual understanding on key energy issues, while also enhancing our common efforts to tackle energy challenges, such as the current pandemic.

Commissioner, I appreciate the supportive comments you made during our last meeting in regards to the ongoing efforts of OPEC and our non-OPEC partners of the Declaration of Cooperation to rebalance the oil market and renew investor confidence in the energy industry.

These cooperative efforts have provided a vital stabilizing force in the oil market, and more importantly, they saved this industry from a near collapse in the wake of “Black Monday” on April 20, one of the worst oil shocks in history. Without these sacrificial contributions of the DoC, the oil market would clearly be much worse off today.

The effectiveness of this global energy cooperation has been lauded at the highest levels of government and by the G20 Energy Ministers at their April and September Meetings. In addition, the industry has benefited from the contributions of other producing countries who have voluntarily or involuntarily shut-in production.

We have indeed come a long way in addressing this unprecedented global health crisis, but unfortunately, we are not yet out of the woods. There are still regional pockets around the world experiencing a resurgence in infections as winter approaches, and the spectre of renewed lockdowns is not out of the picture. These eventualities, if they materialize, would slow the process of economic recovery and the rate at which we see oil demand return to pre-pandemic levels.

Consequently, we must remain vigilant, and continue to seek a multilateral approach to addressing this pandemic.

It is clear that a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels of growth may take time and may only come to pass when ALL stakeholders do their part to help restore economic growth. This includes the potential financial stimulus measures that are being debated by various governments as a means to neutralize the economic fallout from this crisis.

We look forward to hearing from your Excellency and our EU colleagues about the progress being made in this regard, and to receiving an update on initiatives the EU is carrying out to achieve a post-COVID-19 recovery.

We will also have an opportunity to discuss short- and long-term term oil market perspectives, the current status of the energy transition in light of the pandemic, as well as issues related to energy policies, sustainability and energy security.

Many of these issues were discussed in detail at the 3rd Technical Meeting of the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue, which took place last Friday. OPEC presented the outcomes of our 2020 World Oil Outlook, which was released on 8 October, and the EU shared with us its new energy framework, including its “New Green Deal” policy. This meeting was very productive and served as a perfect tie-in to today’s deliberations.

Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,

During times of crisis, such as this, dialogue and cooperation are even that much more essential, and that is why events such as this one here today must be prioritized.

Only by working together with our global partners will we be able to clear this formidable hurdle and proceed on to a more stable and predictable world in which the economy and the energy markets can flourish once again.

I would like to close with the wise words of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who is the world’s leading advocate for multilateral engagement.

“I am a multilateralist. I am deeply convinced that there is no other way to deal with global challenges than with global responses, and organised in a multilateral way.”

Shining examples of this multilateral approach are the Declaration of Cooperation, now in its fourth year, and the longer-term Charter of Cooperation, which have transformed the way this industry does business. Indeed, a new era in global energy cooperation has been ushered in.

This year, OPEC is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of its founding on 14 September 1960 in Baghdad. To mark OPEC’s momentous six-decades of achievement, we have put together a special documentary that I would like to share with you now.

With that, I would now like to turn the floor over to Her Excellency, Commissioner Kadri Simson who will provide some opening remarks for us.

Thank you.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

HE Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy

HE Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy