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A Time for Global Energy Dialogue

26 October 2004

Moscow, Russia

Oil markets and energy security remain in the headlines. Political leaders are concerned. Oil importing, industrialized countries warn of the detrimental effects that high oil prices have on the world economy. Oil-importing developing countries suffer even more from increasing oil import bills. Oil-exporting countries are producing what they can to help bring prices down. Surging demand in Asia, economic recovery, refinery bottlenecks as well as terrorist attacks and political uncertainties are driving factors behind the higher level of oil prices. 

If this shorter-term perspective is challenging, the longer-term scenario is even more daunting. The increase in global energy demand foreseen in the years ahead is substantial. An add-on of two-thirds of today's level by the year 2030. Most of this increase will come in the developing countries as their economies grow. It is estimated that total investments of USD 16 trillion are required for the energy supply infrastructure needed to satisfy global demand in 2030. 

In a World of increasing interdependencies, these significant energy developments affect us all. Clearly, this is a time to join hands in global dialogue and partnership to promote the short and long-term interests that we share. And what better place to reflect on the issues at hand than here in Moscow? At a time, when the Russian Federation, with her enormous energy resources, towers as a super producer of oil and gas on the Eurasian land mass. Let me commend the organisers of the 4th Russian Oil and Gas Week on their success in bringing representatives of governments and industry together in purposeful dialogue. 

A unique dialogue on energy

The need for dialogue and partnerships is obvious. Energy is crucial for economic and social development in individual countries. Energy is important for commercial and political relations between countries. It fuels the world economy. Production and consumption of energy impacts the global environment. Energy influences, and is influenced by, international politics. 

The producer-consumer dialogue at political level in the International Energy Forum is unique in its global participation and perspective. It involves not only ministers of IEA and OPEC countries, but also ministers of important countries outside these two main producer and consumer organisations; Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa to name a few, that will increasingly impact the global energy scenario. In the IEF, Russia and other countries participate on an equal footing with their peers in the IEA and OPEC. 

The IEF is unique also in its informal approach. Ministers discuss common concerns. They exchange information and policy views. They look for consensus-oriented approaches to the energy challenges ahead across traditional geo-political, economic and energy policy dividing-lines. The IEF is not an organisation for decision-making or negotiations. Energy policy decisions are made on a national basis in capitals.

Amsterdam Ministerial

The past has shown how energy, especially oil and excessive market volatility, can create conflict or exacerbate existing political tensions between countries or groups of countries. The producer-consumer dialogue in the IEF has contributed to greater mutual understanding and to convergence of views. 

The 9th IEF Ministerial took place in Amsterdam 22-24 May this year. Some 60 countries and eleven international organisations were there. Never before had so many energy ministers gathered at any one conference at any one time anywhere in the world. Ministers of both oil-exporting and oil-importing countries expressed concern about high oil prices. Economic recovery worldwide, especially in developing countries, would benefit from stable oil prices at a reasonable level. Both producer and consumer countries had to take action. 

Ministers considered present oil and gas reserves sufficient to meet the world's increasing energy needs in the coming decades, provided that necessary investments to develop these resources are made in time. 

They advocated unhindered access to capital, energy technology and markets for development of production, transit and transport capacity. They reaffirmed the sovereign rights of states over their natural resources, while also recognising the commercial objectives of oil and gas companies. Ministers echoed the strong messages from industry that stable and transparent economic, fiscal and legal frameworks need to be in place to attract sufficient foreign investment. 

They emphasized the importance of energy for sustainable development and referred to the energy needs of a growing world population, a quarter of which does not have access to electricity. They underscored the need to invest in cleaner fossil fuels and in reducing the detrimental effects of increasing energy use. The importance of developing alternative energy sources was stressed. The Forum favoured a smooth transition to a new energy era for the longer term, facilitated by still ample oil and gas reserves.

Russia and the IEF

In Amsterdam, the Russian Federation voiced strong support for the producer-consumer dialogue in the International Energy Forum and invitedthe IEF's new Secretariat to speak at the opening session and to co-chair with Russian authorities a special roundtable on the 'Eurasian Energy Dialogue' at this 4th Russian Oil and Gas Week. We hope that further co-operative ventures will follow. We are happy to have the Russian Federation as an active member of the Secretariat's Board. 

We greatly appreciate the resolve of the Russian Federation to play her important and responsible role in international energy co-operation as confirmed by Foreign Minister Lavrov and Energy Minister Khristenko again today. As a major energy producing, consuming and exporting country, and with her wider economic and political importance, Russia has a very special contribution to make. You have indeed established an impressive network of energy diplomacy, bilaterally and regionally, with other countries and groups of countries as well as with international organisations. 

We are happy that Russia sees the International Energy Forum as a multilateral mechanism through which to make her voice heard in a forward-looking global energy dialogue and in promoting energy security in our World of increasing interdependencies.