Concrete results at Rome dialogue

OPEC Bulletin Commentary May 2008

As the doors closed on the final session of the 11th International Energy Forum (IEF) in Rome last month, it was clear that significant progress had been made on matters of substance affecting the industry, particularly the key fossil fuel sectors.

Ministerial delegations from 74 countries participated in the biennial producer-consumer dialogue Forum, together with 13 international organizations and, at the previous day’s closely connected Third International Energy Business Forum, 27 business leaders.

In a video interview with OPEC immediately after the event, the IEF’s Secretary General, Dr Noé van Hulst, described the 11th Forum as the largest gathering of Energy Ministers he could remember in the dialogue, underlining the growing importance of this process, which OPEC has played a major role in establishing and developing over the past decade and a half.

In the interview (see page 44 and the OPEC web-site), he welcomed the ‘concrete results where we can advance on particular issues’.

The issues he highlighted have also been high on OPEC’s agenda in recent years: the continued progress with transparency, and the mandate and agreement to further advance the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI), including its extension into gas; the decision to enact, together with the International Energy Agency and OPEC, a joint assessment of biofuels, covering both their potential and their limitations; the extensive, in-depth discussions of carbon capture and storage — at a greater level than ever before — including the need for more research and development and demonstration projects, and its deployment in developing countries, notably through the Clean Development Mechanism; the recognition by the Forum that cooperation between national and international oil companies would be an important topic for the future; and the request for the IEF Secretariat to provide a report to the 12th Forum in 2010 on uncertainties that hamper investment and the means of tackling them.

Other prominent issues at the 11th Forum included oil prices and volatility, interdependence, a sustainable energy future, energy efficiency and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, with the halving of poverty rates by 2015. All issues, once again, which have been aired at length by OPEC on countless occasions, including in the background paper it prepared for the event, entitled ‘Oil outlook to 2030’.

When looking at last month’s achievements in Rome, for newcomers to the industry, it is perhaps easy to be complacent about the IEF.

But, for those who have been around rather longer, they will recall the time when, not so long ago, the whole idea of effective, institutionalized producer-consumer dialogue would have been considered a pipedream.

Instead, the dialogue became a reality in 1991, albeit with humble beginnings, and has since gone from strength to strength.

Dr Hulst, who took over as Secretary General earlier this year, is committed to enhancing and deepening the dialogue and to advancing the practical side of it, mirroring the success of JODI in other important areas.

We go along with this in OPEC and we wish Dr Hulst every success in achieving his aims in the coming years.

This Commentary is taken from the May 2008 edition of the OPEC Bulletin which can be downloaded free of charge in PDF format from the OPEC website.

OPEC Bulletin (May 2008)

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