The OPEC Academy’s enduring contributions

OPEC Bulletin Commentary – September-October 2022

In recent weeks at the OPEC Secretariat, it has been possible to hear discussions on innovations in the crude futures markets, energy consumption and economic growth in the EU, ESG policies, investments in the fossil fuel sector, oil supply modelling, along with many other timely topics.

It may sound like a university syllabus — and it could be. But these topics reflect just a few of the presentations hosted by the OPEC Academy, the Organization’s knowledge and networking platform.

The Academy is an important part of the services the OPEC Secretariat provides to Member Countries and other key stakeholders. Its full portfolio includes the Visiting Research Fellow Programme (VRFP), Summer Fellowship Programme (SFP), Multi-Disciplinary Training Course (MDTC), Internship Programme, Lecture Series, the Vienna Energy Scholar Programme (VESP), OPEC Energy Review and the Secondment Programme.

Under its umbrella, the Academy attracts some of the world’s leading energy experts, while giving professional researchers, university students, interns and others an opportunity to enrich their knowledge of the Organization, its Member Countries and the oil industry in general.

Established in 2018, the OPEC Academy incorporates the activities of the Academic Committee, which was created in 2006 to oversee the OPEC Secretariat’s multitude of research and training programmes. Since then, the Academy has expanded and is an integral part of efforts to build capacity, strengthen professionalism and share expertise.

Traditional academic institutions can be resistant to change. By contrast, the OPEC Academy has been quick to adjust to the times and often focuses on issues that are making headlines. As the world locked down at the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the Academy quickly moved online. It provided a steady stream of programmes that helped maintain an open channel of communication between experts from the OPEC Secretariat, Member Countries and their counterparts outside of the Organization. These discussions have contributed — along with OPEC’s dialogues and other outreach — to a better understanding of what has been happening in the world and the energy markets since the pandemic began.

The VESP is the Academy’s newest programme, having marked its second year in September. (See our coverage on page <?>.) The VESP provides university students and future energy professionals in Vienna a unique opportunity to learn about OPEC, its Member Countries and the oil business through hands-on experiences and field trips. Furthermore, this programme enhances the cooperative relationship that has existed between the OPEC Secretariat and the city it has called home for 57 years.

Going forward, the Academy is well positioned to help OPEC oil producers attract new generations of skilled employees to the industry by offering rewarding professional experiences, training opportunities and a platform for young professionals to share their own ideas and expertise. As an outgrowth of these opportunities, facilitating additional research and career exchanges between Member Countries would bring added value to the Academy’s multifaceted programmes.

This is important, given that the oil industry overall paid a dear price in both lost investment and human resources during the dramatic market crisis in 2020 and the industry downturn in 2015 and 2016. The market’s rebound over the past two years, and the urgent need to prepare for future growth, mean the oil sector needs to redouble efforts to attract and retain workers with diverse skill sets, educational backgrounds and work experiences.

With its vast knowledge network, the Academy is also in a strong position to foster the dialogue and cooperation needed to achieve an energy transition that is orderly, inclusive and addresses the world’s economic, social and environmental concerns.

This summer, nine young professionals from OPEC Member Countries (four of whom were based at the Secretariat) participated in the SFP. Their impressive array of research represents a prime example of how capacity building can contribute to attracting, motivating and rewarding the best and brightest in an industry that will remain vital to the world’s energy needs for the foreseeable future.

Knowledge — like oil itself — is an indispensable commodity. As one of this year’s Summer Fellows aptly noted during a presentation at the OPEC Secretariat: “We always talk about the financial investments in the industry. But we also need to talk about human capital development.”

The OPEC Academy’s investments in enhancing professionalism and the exchange of knowledge will pay dividends for a long time to come, and ultimately contribute to OPEC’s efforts to achieve a more stable, sustainable and secure energy future.

OPEC Bulletin September-October 2022

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