Brief remarks by OPEC Secretary General

Delivered by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, at the launch of OPEC’s history book tilted ‘OPEC 60 years and beyond: A story of courage, cooperation and commitment,’ 19 June 2022, Baghdad, Iraq.

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to transport you back to Baghdad on the 14 September 1960.  It was a day when the five Founding Fathers of OPEC, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo of Venezuela; Abdullah al-Tariki of Saudi Arabia; Dr Tala’at al-Shaibani of Iraq; Dr Fuad Rouhani of Iran; and Ahmed Sayed Omar of Kuwait gathered together in the Al-Shaab Hall in this great city, to midwife OPEC into the world. 

This seminal event, known as the historic ‘Baghdad Conference’, saw these five visionaries from our Founder Member Countries gathered together around the premise of cooperation and with the need to write their own story. Pérez Alfonzo said after the meeting: “We are now united. We are making history.

That history now spans more than six decades, despite some sceptics suggesting that it would last little more than a few years.  As an Organization we have come a long way, we have witnessed many ups and downs, we have seen seven major market cycles, including the latest in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have evolved as an integral part of the international energy community, and we have seen reams of column inches written about OPEC.

It is important to stress that in terms of OPEC’s history, the Organization is far more than just an appendage to the history of oil.  It is a story of a family of nations, of people and populations, of feelings and emotions of countries rich in culture and heritage, and of the struggle of a group of developing countries to exercise the inalienable right of all countries to exercise permanent sovereignty over their natural resources in the interest of their national development.

Towards the end of 2019, as we looked at OPEC’s impending 60th anniversary in September 2020, we decided to embark on telling this story.  Putting words on paper, to document the first 60 years and bring OPEC’s history to a wider readership.

Our initial preparations for this was in the time before COVID-19!  The original plan was to launch it in Baghdad to celebrate OPEC’s 60th anniversary, and while the book was ready, the pandemic put paid to its unveiling in September 2020.

However, I am extremely happy that we have the opportunity to officially launch it today, with the help of the Iraqi Government, and specifically Iraq’s Minister of Oil, His Excellency Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael, and his able team at the Ministry.

We could not have done this without Iraq’s help.  Your generous commitment to this project, your support for the anniversary celebrations, and your continued backing for OPEC, deserve a round of applause.

Thank you, Your Excellency.

The book, titled ‘OPEC 60 years and beyond: A story of courage, cooperation and commitment’, consists of two main parts.

Part One chronicles the history of the Organization, starting with the build-up to OPEC’s creation on 14 September 1960 and up to its 60th Anniversary.

Part Two looks more deeply into specific cross cutting issues, to further explore what the Organization stands for and where it is heading, including chapters on dialogues, OPEC seminars, development, OPEC and its host country Austria, and the environment.

As the book highlights, the history of OPEC underscores the adversities the Organization has faced, the challenges overcome, the achievements made, and the value placed on dialogue and cooperation with other industry stakeholders, including both producers and consumers.

Surviving 60 years is a monumental achievement in and of itself for such an organization, but especially so for one representing one of the most volatile commodities – oil.

We hope this book will prove of interest and value to readers of every persuasion wishing to learn more about our Organization and its Member Countries, whether they be from within the industry itself, the world of academia, the media or other walks of life.

I should like to thank all those who have been directly involved in preparing this book, particularly Hasan Hafidh, Head of OPEC’s Public Relations Department and Editor-in-Chief of the publication, and the two main authors, James Griffin and Mathew Quinn.

As Chairman of the Editorial Board of the book, I was regularly updated on how the book was progressing, I read it many times before it was published to offer my thoughts, and it is clear to me that it has been both an onerous and an enjoyable task.

It was onerous because of the painstaking research carried out in studying and analyzing 60 years of OPEC’s history, and then collating this and presenting it in an easily digestible form for readers.

At the same time, it was an enjoyable and illuminating experience for the Secretariat, because of the many new insights gained about our Organization, our Member Countries, our objectives, our struggles and our achievements. We hope we have managed to convey these insights successfully to readers.

Alongside the support of Iraq in this project, the biggest gratitude should be reserved for all those people who have contributed to OPEC’s success over its first six decades.

This includes:

The visionary Founding Fathers who set it up and pointed it in the right direction;

The Ministers, Secretary Generals, Governors, National Representatives and other top officials who persevered robustly with asserting Member Countries’ sovereign rights in the early years and then strenuously abided by OPEC’s core values throughout the following years;

The Heads of State and Government whose landmark summits in 1975, 2000 and 2007 revitalized the Organization and permitted a fresh new look at the challenges facing Member Countries; and,

Last but by no means least, the Staff of the Secretariat, whose tireless efforts, enthusiasm and support across a wide range of disciplines have provided a sound base from which OPEC can achieve its aims and aspirations.

I very much hope everyone here enjoys reading the OPEC story.

Thank you for your attention.

OPEC Secretary General and HE Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael, Iraq’s Minister of Oil and Head of its Delegation to OPEC

OPEC Secretary General and HE Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael, Iraq’s Minister of Oil and Head of its Delegation to OPEC

OPEC Secretary General delivered remarks at the book launch

OPEC Secretary General delivered remarks at the book launch