Opening remarks by OPEC Secretary General

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the 7th High-Level Meeting of the OPEC-Russia Energy Dialogue, 3 November 2020, via videoconference.

Excellency, distinguished colleagues,

Good morning.

In welcoming you all this morning to the 7th High-Level Meeting of the OPEC-Russia Energy Dialogue, it is with an extremely sombre tone that I begin proceedings, as we reflect upon the heinous attacks that took place in Vienna’s first district last night, very close to the OPEC Secretariat.

We offer our prayers to the victims of the attack, extend our heartfelt condolences to their families, and hope for a speedy recovery for all of those who were injured.

This was an attack bringing fear and hatred into the life of the people of Vienna and Austria. We strongly and vociferously condemn such senseless acts of extreme violence and terror solely aimed at taking human life and creating chaos.

We stand in solidarity with our host city, Vienna, which we have called home for 55 years, and the Austrian people.

Excellency, distinguished colleagues,

I very much wish that we could have held this meeting in person, delegation meeting delegation, person-to-person, but I think we all understand the restrictions we have in place to help contain the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Today’s meeting, the seventh edition to date, started in 2012, and my great friend, His Excellency Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation has been present at every one of these meetings.

Over the years he has been instrumental in strengthening and adding depth to this the dialogue, which has seen collaboration on the G20 platform, the establishment of joint studies and workshops and the evolution of an internship programme

And of course, this dialogue also provided the springboard to the historic Declaration of Cooperation (DoC) and Charter of Cooperation (CoC) that has evolved between OPEC and non-OPEC producers since 2016.

Your tireless efforts, your wise counsel, your strong support and your visionary contributions to this dialogue have helped ensure that we are always forward looking, proactive and focused. You have helped lead an unprecedented era of international energy cooperation between OPEC and the Russian Federation

Our partnership has evolved into a permanent, transformative force-for-good in the energy market; one that has had a profoundly positive effect on the industry and the global economy.

I have on occasions been asked: what is the formula behind this flowering relationship? I think it is simple, and is summed up succinctly by the great Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov, who once wrote:

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”

We have evolved our relationship, shown mutual respect and developed great bonds of trust.

At OPEC, we have tremendous admiration for the Russian Federation; its status as one of the top oil and gas producers; the important leadership role it plays in international affairs; and the tremendous contribution that generations of Russian scientists, artists, writers, musicians and poets have made in shaping our civilization.

As we all know, the last four years of our work together has been historic.  The DoC that was established on 10 December 2016 at the first OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting has been central to help tackle two major oil industry downturns, the latter coinciding with a pandemic and huge turmoil in the global economic landscape.

The three years that followed the signing of the DoC were characterized by disciplined implementation of the voluntary production adjustments; regular monitoring of the oil market conditions; and a gradual, albeit bumpy at times, rebalancing and stabilization in the oil market.

It proved a success, with benefits for both producers and consumers.

I should add here that the staunch support and the leadership at the very highest levels of government in the Russian Federation has been vital to the success of the Declaration of Cooperation. The President of the Russian FederationHis Excellency Vladimir Putin, has been a leading advocate of this endeavor from the very beginning.

This includes his positive intervention at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul in October 2016, in support of joint market stabilizing efforts, and I personally recall my bilateral meeting with him on the sidelines of the 2nd Russia Energy Week, in Moscow in October 2018, where he reiterated his support. President Putin’s continued pledges of support of all participating countries for their ongoing commitment and contributions to sustainable stability in the global oil market are vital.

The platform that was laid with the DoC in 2017-2019, has proven vital in 2020 when there was the need for swift, proactive and decisive action, given the lightening shocks that jolted the global economy and with oil demand dropping by more than 20 mb/d in April.

This came in the form of support from the very highest levels of government, including a personal intervention from President Putin to help deliver the historic April OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial decisions.

These saw new voluntary production adjustments: the largest and longest in the history of OPEC, the DoC and the oil industry. It was an unparalleled commitment to rebalancing and stabilizing the market, in the interests of both producers and consumers.

Despite the often choppy waters in the period since then, I feel we can say that the DoC production adjustments have helped the market right the ship and steer a course out of these waters.

However, it is evident that more work still needs to be done, which is why we continue to hold monthly JMMCs to monitor conformity to the adjustments and the state of the market

Let me say here that the Russian Federation is an indispensable part of what the DoC is looking to achieve.

It is also important to stress this dialogue connects the short-, medium- and long-terms.

To put it simply: this dialogue, and the broader CoC, will be vital to both the Russian Federation and OPEC as we look to navigate the future energy transition.

It is our deeply held conviction that we need to work together, step-by-step, and challenge the misconception that the oil and gas industries are not part of our energy future, and that the future is one that will be dominated by renewables and electric vehicles.

The science does not tell us this; it tells us that we need to reduce emissions and use energy more efficiently.  The stark statistics related to the blight of energy poverty do not tell us this either; they tell us that billions still need access to reliable and affordable energy.

The oil and gas industries are part of the solution; we possesses critical resources and expertise that can help unlock our carbon-free future.

Thus, it is vital that we discuss how we can use this dialogue to elicit responses and actions on the energy transition; promote solutions to the environmental challenge that can be found in technologies, such as Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage (CCUS) and others, that reduce and ultimately eliminate emissions; and further energize the CoC, with its broad footprint as a platform open to all producers.

I firmly believe that we can identify many areas to further our cooperation; this relationship can be pivotal to shaping our energy futures.

Your Excellency, colleagues,

In an ever more interdependent and global market, the challenges which this industry faces are inherently complex.  No single stakeholder possesses all of the answers or, indeed, knows all of the questions.

It is why we hold this OPEC-Russia High-level Energy Dialogue, and the broader DoC and CoC, in such high esteem.

It is only through working together, with flexibility, commitment and pragmatism, that we can hope to surmount the obstacles we face. 

This dialogue continues to go from strength-to-strength, and I very much look forward to the informative sessions we have today, and the further flourishing of our vital and innovative cooperation.

I look forward to the day when I can return to Moscow, St. Petersburg, or any of the other beautiful cities, places and landmarks that adorn the Russian Federation.

Thank you, and I would like to now hand the floor to my good friend, His Excellency Alexander Novak.

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

HE Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation

HE Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation