OPEC Bulletin Commentary – August 2021

Let this generation be the nucleus of future generations, the sturdy oak whose branches will spread beyond the confines of oil into other fields … (Ashraf T Lutfi, 1960)

As the anniversary of the founding of OPEC in the Al-Shaab Hall in the Bab AlMuaatham district in Baghdad on September 14, 1960, passes, I often think of the above quote, which came from that time, delivered by somebody who would later go on to serve as Secretary General, Ashraf Lutfi.

The metaphor of OPEC as a ‘sturdy oak’ with branches spreading far and wide is very apt. Indeed, when our founding fathers — Fuad Rouhani of Iran; Dr Tala’at alShaibani of Iraq; Ahmed Sayed Omar of Kuwait; Abdullah Al-Tariki of Saudi Arabia; and Dr Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo of Venezuela — established this Organization, they were planting seeds. These seeds represented the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of a small group of developing countries who sought to build a better world for future generations. It was both a pioneering and noble act.

Over the subsequent 61 years, the seeds planted in Baghdad required careful tending and care. Yet, slowly but surely, the seeds gestated into a mighty tree, a truly ‘sturdy oak’. Our Organization expanded its Membership and carved out a critical role for itself in the international energy arena. Repeatedly, we came to be seen as a dependable actor in the multilateral system that was prepared to take the selfless actions necessary in the collective interests of oil consumers, producers and the global economy.

How best can we describe the current condition of this ‘sturdy oak’ three score years and one after it was planted? By any objective criteria, it is clear that this Organization, on the eve of its 61st birthday, is in terrific health and enjoying a period of renewal and increased relevance in international affairs.

As the founding fathers envisioned, it has branched into other fields, including working with reliable partners on areas such as sustainable development and environmental issues. Replenished by the historic ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ and ‘Charter of Cooperation’, the Organization has played a critical role in the recovery of the post-pandemic global economy.

Organizations are not made of brick and mortar. They are made of people. The successes OPEC has enjoyed over the last 61 years would not have been possible without the dedication, service and passion of successive generations of OPEC Secretariat staff. Our current team took the baton passed by our predecessors and elevated it to new heights.

On this ‘OPEC Day’, I want to thank OPEC Staff for diligent and professional manner in which they conduct themselves every day. We give thanks for our great heritage and consider the future contribution that can be make in helping fulfil the brave vision of our Founder Fathers.

Sixty-one years on from that momentous day we can all say with pride the spirit of Baghdad is thriving and even though we have achieved so much together, OPEC’s best days are still to come.

OPEC Bulletin August 2021

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