OQ: OPEC is becoming more candid when talking about the issue of climate change. Why is this and how is the organization contributing to global efforts to combat climate change?

MSB: OPEC remains fully engaged and supportive of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, which remains the only viable global framework to address climate change. As I mentioned at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland, last December, the oil industry must be part of the solution to the climate change challenge. We believe that ‘there is no Planet B.’ We are all responsible for this planet. Yes, we do need to be candid about what the

pathway is to a sustainable energy for all. We need to be realistic about how future energy demand growth – which according to our latest World Oil Outlook is expected to expand by a robust 33 percent by 2040 – can be achieved in a sustainable way. This must balance the needs of people in relation to their social welfare – with energy poverty, as I have already mentioned, still a blight on the lives of billions of people – with the economy and the environment. It is clear that all energies are required. It is not about choosing one energy over another. Renewables are clearly coming of age, with wind and solar expanding fast, and OPEC member countries have great sources of solar and wind, and significant investments are being made in these fields. However, we have not seen any reputable outlook suggesting that renewables will come anywhere close to overtaking oil and gas in the coming decades. In terms of climate change, we believe that we need to constantly improve the environmental footprint of all the energies we use. For oil and gas, the environmental challenge is not oil and gas themselves. It is the emissions that come from burning them. In OPEC, we are firm believers that solutions can be found in technologies, such as carbon, capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), that reduce and ultimately eliminate these emissions. In this regard, we welcome coordinated action within the industry, governments and through various research and development platforms, such as the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. It is vital that we collectively develop and adopt technologies, as well as all-inclusive energy policies, that would address carbon emissions, not crowd out investments in oil.


OQ: OPEC was originally established to help member countries gain control of their domestic petroleum industries. As OPEC approaches its 60th birthday, how different is the role of the organization today?

MSB: When OPEC was set up in September 1960 at the historic ‘Baghdad Conference’ by five founding members – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – there were some who predicted that the organization would not last long. Yet, little by little, OPEC began to make its mark. That initial small group of developing countries has now evolved into a much larger group that is respected far and wide as an established part of the international energy community. It has overcome many challenges, and it continues to prosper. There is no doubt that the oil industry has changed significantly over the past 60 years, in areas such as technology, policy, the reach and importance of the industry, and of course, in terms of cooperation. OPEC has evolved alongside these, it has matured and weathered many challenges along the way, but to put it simply, its overall mantra has remained unchanged for the past 60 years: striving for sustainable oil market stability.

OQ: What would be the best 60th birthday present for OPEC and how do you plan to mark the occasion?

MSB: The 60th anniversary is an extremely important one for the organization. It will be a moment to not only celebrate OPEC’s long history and the men and women that have contributed so much, but also to look forward to the future in terms of the challenges we may face and the opportunities that may arise. It is important to remember that the formation of OPEC was a pioneering act, an act that demonstrated that even developing countries had rights. It is important to acclaim this, and recognize the birthplace of OPEC. In this regard, we will be looking to hold a celebratory occasion in Baghdad. Given that Vienna has been OPEC’s home for all but five years of its existence, we will also look to host a number of events in this beautiful city.


Expected energy demand by 2040:

collaborate when we are united;

“It is much easier to

when we find common cause and goals. As the poet John Donne once said: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.”

OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo

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