Welcoming remarks by Iraq’s Minister of Oil

Delivered by HE Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael, Iraq’s Minister of Oil and Head of its Delegation to OPEC, 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.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great privilege to launch the special book commissioned for the 60th Anniversary of OPEC’s founding; a book entitled: ‘OPEC 60 Years and Beyond: A Story of Courage, Cooperation and Commitment.’ For Iraq, and the city of Baghdad in particular, we are delighted to be the site of the launch of this book.

Of course, this is only fitting, for it was here, almost 62 years ago, between the 10th and 14th of September 1960, representatives from five courageous oil producing countries descended on Al-Shaab Hall in the Bab Al-Muaatham district in Baghdad: Fuad Rouhani of Iran; Dr. Tala’at al-Shaibani of Iraq; Ahmed Sayed Omar of Kuwait; Abdullah Al-Tariki of Saudi Arabia; and Dr. Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo of Venezuela. As a result of the actions of these five founding fathers, visionary leaders of our Member Countries, OPEC came into existence.

To commemorate this history, the Iraqi government has graciously renovated the Al-Shaab Hall to preserve and honour its unique history.

The fact that our country is the birthplace of OPEC is an enormous source of pride for all Iraqis. We are proud of our role as a Founder Member; as a constructive force throughout the Organization’s history; a consensus forger and bridge builder. We are pleased that the Iraqi Government has sponsored this book and hope it will be a useful reference tool for future generations who seek to acquaint themselves better with our Organization.

One clear conclusion from this terrific book is that Iraq has continued to play an active role in furthering the Organization’s aims and promoting sustainable oil market stability for over six decades. OPEC has been greatly enriched by the dedication and contribution of a succession of dedicated and talented Iraqi public servants, Ministers, Governors, National Representatives, and OPEC Staff Members. They have represented our Organization and our country in the best possible light.

Iraq has been particularly supportive of OPEC’s market stabilization efforts through the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ process, signed on 10 December 2016, which has seen OPEC join hands with 10 non-OPEC oil producing countries as they work together towards a balanced oil market. This commitment has risen to new heights in 2019, as Iraq became a member of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee. It is one of my duties as Iraq’s Head of Delegation to OPEC, to represent our country at this committee when it meets on a monthly basis.

Iraq has also played a significant role in the endorsement of the ‘Charter of Cooperation’ at the 6th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting on 2 July 2019. This represents a significant step in the further institutionalization of the successful DoC partnership. Indeed, Iraq was the first country to ratify the ‘Charter of Cooperation’ through its national process.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate the staff members from the OPEC Secretariat, ably led by HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General, for the outstanding work they have put into this book. This book represents a singular accomplishment. It is meticulously researched, compellingly written and showcases the multitude of accomplishments that our Organization has achieved throughout its history.

All success in life comes as a result of teamwork and I would like to heartily thank the team in doing the Organization a great service in producing this book. It is a service sincerely appreciated by the Member Countries as it provides a one-stop source for information on the remarkable journey that OPEC has been on.

It is indeed one of the final activities of our dear colleague and friend, HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo. His Excellency will soon be completing his six year assignment as Secretary General. On behalf of Iraq, I would like to thank him for his outstanding dedication and service. He has navigated the Organization through moments, notably, the severe oil market downturn in 2014-2016 and the demand contraction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Secretary General has made an indelible contribution to the unique format that is ‘the Declaration of Cooperation’ between OPEC and 10 non-OPEC oil-producing countries. Together our nations have worked hand-in-glove to support the oil industry and ensured its survival.

Mr. Barkindo has been a very good friend of Iraq. He has visited our country on a multitude of occasions over the last six years and sought to advance our country’s interests in the Organization. It is particularly pleasing that on his many visits he was able to see some of Iraq’s holy and cultural sites, such as the holy shrines of Najaf and Kerbala, the Masjid al-Kufa, the site of the ancient city of Babylon, adjacent to Hillah, the ancient city of Ur in Nasiriya, and the National Museum of Iraq.

We express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Barkindo and wish him every success in the next chapter of his life.

It is therefore a happy and joyous day; one when we can reflect on OPEC’s history, Iraq’s contribution to that history and the positive role OPEC has played in the oil market and indeed, international affairs for the last sixty years.

Thank you for your kind attention. I would like to hand the floor over to the Secretary General.

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

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

Iraq’s Oil Minister and OPEC Secretary General signed a copy of the book announcing its launch

Iraq’s Oil Minister and OPEC Secretary General signed a copy of the book announcing its launch