Welcoming Address to the 5th OPEC International Seminar

by HE Abdul-Kareem Luaibi Bahedh, Iraq's Minister of Oil, OPEC Conference President, Vienna, Austria, 13 June 2012

Excellency Dr Heinz Fischer,
The President of the Federal Republic of Austria,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna for the Fifth OPEC International Seminar, whose theme is 'Petroleum: Fuelling Prosperity, Supporting Sustainability'.

Vienna has been the home of our Secretariat now for nearly half a century.  During this time, the world oil industry has changed beyond recognition.  Without any doubt, it has changed for the better.  In OPEC, we feel privileged to have been part of this process and the benefits it has brought to mankind as a whole.

The challenges we face today as oil-producing, developing countries have evolved and diversified over the years.

However, we remain committed to the original objectives dating from our first meeting in Baghdad in September 1960.  These relate to market order and stability for the present and the future.  They are outlined in the OPEC Statute as follows:

  • The Organization shall devise ways and means of ensuring the stabilization of prices in international oil markets with a view to eliminating harmful and unnecessary fluctuations.
  • Due regard shall be given at all times to the interests of the producing nations and to the necessity of securing: a steady income to the producing countries; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations; and a fair return on their capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.

Since then, we have adopted important new challenges as they have arisen.  At OPEC's Third Summit in Riyadh in 2007, our Heads of State and Government defined three guiding themes to cover future actions by our Member Countries and the Organization as a whole.  These are:

  • Stability of global energy markets.
  • Energy for sustainable development.
  • Energy and the environment.

In addition, OPEC has been at the forefront of the huge advances in dialogue and cooperation that have helped bind the industry together in today's fast-moving, high-tech, global market.

As is the case with any Organization like ours, it is necessary to sit back and review the current situation from time to time, as well as reflect upon the new challenges.  And when this is done by a group of leading stakeholders and experts with a shared commitment to progress in the industry and the advancement of mankind generally, then all the better.

This is why we have been holding this series of OPEC International Seminars since 2001.

Over the next one and half days at this year's seminar, various important topical issues will come under scrutiny.  These include the international oil market, the global energy scene, the world economy, the environment, sustainable development and technology.  We shall also be assessing the present and future outlooks in these areas.

And who better to discuss these issues than the men and women who have left an indelible mark on the industry?  These include Ministers from our own Member Countries and other oil-producing countries, heads of intergovernmental organizations, chief executives of national and international oil companies, industry analysts, academics and the media.  Their wisdom and insights will enrich our discussions during the seminar.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

At this point, I should like to thank all those who have been involved in organising the event, under the overall direction of His Excellency Abdalla Salem El-Badri, the Secretary General.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In just three years' time, we shall be celebrating half a century of our excellent relationship with the Federal Republic and with the City of Vienna.  Since we moved our Secretariat to this fine international city in September 1965, this relationship has gone from strength to strength, to our mutual benefit. And we look forward to building upon this in the future, with the continuing friendship and cooperation of our hosts.

It now gives me great pleasure to welcome to the platform His Excellency Dr Heinz Fischer, the President of the Federal Republic of Austria, to deliver his welcoming address.

Thank you for your attention.