In the name of God, The Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate
I welcome you in Doha, and express to you my profound thanks for your participation with us today in the opening of the 20th World Petroleum Congress.
This is a great event, which we have the honor to host in Qatar, specially that it is convened for the first time in the Middle East after almost eighty years since the founding of the World Petroleum Council, which coincided with the first exploration operations and the dawn break of the oil industry in the Middle East.
The strategic importance of the geographic location, enjoyed by the Middle East and the huge reserves of oil and gas it has in addition to its significant share of production and trade of these two vital commodities makes this region the throbbing heart of the global energy industry. Now it is high time to convene this conference in the region, as a symbolic recognition of the importance of its status in the energy industry.
The world economy is undergoing major changes and accelerating developments that have led to economic and financial crises that started to affect the cohesion of the regional blocs, the trade and political relations among states, and the capacity of many developing countries, especially poor countries in achieving the general objectives of development. There is no doubt that the energy system is at the core of these changes because all its components and parties affect these changes and are affected by them.
Also the spread of globalization and the expansion of its features have increased the degree of interlocking between the influencing factors and the extent of interdependence among countries. Hence any talking about energy independence has become unreasonable and impossible, especially in view of the growing demand for its resources.
All energy sources play a key role in the economic and social development process. Oil and gas still account for more than 50% of these resources. But this industry is facing enormous challenges. I would focus briefly on some of them, and on our attitudes towards tackling them, taking into account the theme of this Congress: Energy Solutions for All – to promote cooperation, innovation and investment.
Energy and Development in Exporting Oil and Gas Countries: Most oil and gas exporters belong to developing countries. For thesecountries to preserve the rights of their future generations they have toensure that the depletion of their natural resources would not weakentheir production base in the future. Achieving that requires them to useoil revenues to meet the needs of the present generation and convertthe remainder to a renewable production base that is not dependent onoil and gas.
This goal is achievable when the exporting countries have a clear vision of the nature of this base, as well as the strategies and plans to have access to it. Its achievement also needs the close cooperation of developed importing countries and the international oil companies, with the exporting countries especially in the domains of human development, technology transfer and promotion of innovation.
Energy and Development in poor countries: There is a sharp disparity in the availability of energy resources among countries. There is a high proportion of the world’s population which does not have the minimum of basic energy services for heating, light and cooking. This situation makes many people in poor countries trapped in a vicious circle of poverty and underdevelopment.
This reality has pacled a collective responsibility on developed countries’ consumers and energy exporters to set in motion the wheels of sustainable development in these countries.
But this could not be achieved by taking unilateral action pertaining only to energy supply, but by supporting the comprehensive development process in these countries, especially in finance, education, health, training and infrastructure development.
We in Qatar attach great importance to this issue as one of the fundamental objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030 stipulates: enhancing the contribution to achieve international peace and security through political initiatives and development and humanitarian aid.
Energy and the environment: The negative impact of producing fossil energy on the environment, particularly air quality due to the rise in harmful emissions and climate change as a result of the worsening problem of global warming are facts that leave no room for argument.
But tackling these negative impacts on the environment cannot be handled by a single party in isolation of other concerned parties. For example, the development of clean and renewable energy resources is positive and necessary, and oil and gas exporters strongly support that. But action to achieve this goal by the developed importing countries should not be triggered by malicious reasons, such as not to be dominated by oil exporters, or for not necessarily environmental reasons, as is the case when the development of these resources coincides with the assistance and support for coal production.
In addition to that the development of these resources should not be carried out without informing the exporters of the reality of these activities in detail and required transparency for more accuracy in estimating future demand for oil and gas. The cooperation here among the parties concerned is necessary for the following reasons:
First reason: Meeting the growing needs for oil and gas requires enormous investments by the exporting countries. The financing of these investments and securing their profitability require the most accurate information possible about the factors affecting the global demand for these two commodities to reduce the degree of risk that these investments may be subjected to.
It is not reasonable to ask the Exporting Countries to meet the future needs for these two commodities while at the same time the consumer countries carryout unilateral activities that augment the risks facing these investments.
The second reason: is that optimizing the possible benefit of use of available energy resources in the world is essential to meet the growing world demand on energy. Therefore, endeavours to upgrade technology that alleviates the negative impact of producing and using the fossil fuel on environment, should coincide with the development of renewable energy resources. I am pleased to see that this issue gets wide coverage in this conference.
The third reason: is that in addition to the efforts of the advanced countries to develop the alternative energy resources, the oil and gas exporting countries and the international oil companies are also earnestly seeking to develop these sources.
No doubt the cooperation in the field of research and funding as well as taking risks and exchanging information on projects associated with this development, would bring great benefits for all parties.
Energy and political crises in the Arab region: The events taking place in the Arab region remind us of the debate and concern regarding energy security in view of the region’s important role in meeting the global energy needs.
Here I want to point to the numerous assurances by oil and gas exporting countries of their commitment to maintain the flow of these two resources to the consumers, and to exert every effort to fulfill this especially during crises.
This commitment became evident during the first and second Gulf war when energy supplies were not significantly affected. Perhaps the recent events might have caused some concern regarding energy security and somehow left its impact on the growth of global economy, but we think that energy supplies would surpass crises of the instability in the Arab area.
We in Qatar as exporters of oil and gas endeavour to secure the continuation of our supplies of oil and gas and cooperation with the members of the energy organizations to which we are party, in order to realize this goal.
Energy and global economic growth: Global economy is still reeling from the consequences of the great economic crisis that started to unfold late in 2007 and got worsened in 2008, in spite of the economic recovery in 2010-2011. While the volume of public debt in most of the advanced countries got beyond the acceptable limits, expectations indicate that economic growth in these countries would slow down sharply during the next year.
These two factors create a dilemma which is difficult to settle since addressing one of them leads to aggravating the problems caused by the other factor. Moreover, reducing the public debt which became essential is met with severe resistance on the part of the people of the
European Union; and the way of addressing this matter is being met with conflicting political stands on the part of decision makers in the United States.
No doubt this situation will leave its negative impact on the developing countries economies particularly those relying on exportation for their growth. All this leads to more uncertainty concerning the expected growth of global economy within the coming few years and consequently more uncertainty in the energy market as well.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The overlapping and entanglement of issues create a competitive environment fraught with big challenges and important opportunities which require all of us as exporters and consumers of energy to cooperate in formulating future visions and preparing sustainable solutions to strike a balance between using hydrocarbon resources to meeting our urgent needs of energy especially in the short and medium term and between developing the renewable and alternative energy resources and depending intensively on it in the long term.
Cooperation between the two parties is essential so that the transformation process takes place smoothly and in a manner that guarantees their interests together and realizes the optimum use of the available energy resources in the world.
These are some of the issues I wanted to deal with briefly in view of their significance and the need to address them comprehensively due to their extensive reflections.
I am quite confident that these issues and several other ones linked to energy sector would be addressed and highlighted during this conference and that you would strive to reach practical solutions and propose appropriate recommendations and suitable mechanisms for their application which would contribute to surmounting obstacles facing this vital sector and would satisfy our aspirations to improving its performance and guaranteeing its stability to be able to undertake its leading role in supporting the aspired development march worldwide.
Once again you are welcome in the State of Qatar, and I declare open the 20th World Petroleum Congress, wishing your conference all success and wishing you a pleasant stay in Doha.
May God’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you.
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