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Introductory Remarks

22 April 2006

Doha, Qatar

Let me thank our host H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar, and co-hosts China and Italy, for their commitment and efforts since the 9th IEF in Amsterdam to making this anniversary Ministerial in Doha such an impressive platform for deepening the global energy dialogue. The IEF is a unique global gathering of Ministers across traditional political, economic and energy policy dividing lines and affiliations. What better venue to discuss the cluster of issues related to global energy security? At a time of heightened energy consciousness around the world. 

The IEF Secretariat presented itself, and received your blessing, at the Amsterdam Ministerial two eventful years ago. I wish to thank you for your political support since, especially those Ministers with whom we have interacted directly, both bilaterally and not least as a catalyst global link to their regional and inter-regional energy ambition. A special gratitude to those Ministers, whose governments have provided voluntary financial contributions to Secretariat activity. 

Your political and financial support is the life-line of the Secretariat's mission to enhance and provide continuity to the producer-consumer dialogue. Wanting to be on-going relevant to you, we are looking forward to your further political guidance in the course of this Ministerial with regard to specific follow-up activities and the general direction of our work. A Doha Road Map leading to the 11th IEF in Rome and beyond. 

A Crown Jewel 

A very special thanks to Saudi Arabia, the host country of the Secretariat. Our new headquarter premises in Riyadh, generously provided by the Kingdom as a contribution in kind, were inaugurated on 19 November last year by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud. 

On that occasion, H.E. Minister Al-Naimi convened in our new headquarters a meeting of IEF Ministers and CEO's of leading national and international oil companies. A timely stepping stone to the 10th IEF and 2nd International Energy Business Forum in Doha. Many of you were there and emphasized the importance of the producer-consumer dialogue in the IEF for your shared objectives of energy security, prices at reasonable levels for producers and consumers and a sustainable global energy future. 

Also on that occasion, King Abdullah released the World Database of the Joint Oil Data Initiative to the public. JODI is a concrete achievement of the producer-consumer dialogue. Co-ordination of this unique inter-organizational initiative is a flagship Secretariat activity. Ministers have both in the IEF and elsewhere, notably in the G8 and in regional contexts, expressed their support to the development of JODI. A vehicle to more transparency and hence less volatility in the oil market, providing better predictability for investment decisions crucial to overall energy security. 

I will have the opportunity to revert to achievements of the dialogue, Secretariat activity, not least the Joint Oil Data Initiative in the concluding session of this Ministerial. We have prepared a background paper on the producer-consumer dialogue and a report on our activity in 2005 for this Ministerial. You have received our Programme of Work for 2006 earlier this year. 

Dialogue Link to Industry

Recognizing the importance of active involvement of industry itself to enhance a purposeful producer-consumer dialogue at political level, Ministers met yesterday with CEOs and other high-level officials of thirty-two major international and national oil companies in the 2nd International Energy Business Forum. Let me briefly highlight some perspectives from their discussions. As these discussions are intended as valuable in-put also to the internal discussions of Ministers today and tomorrow. 

Present high oil prices and market anxieties were attributed to a number of factors including increasing demand, tight up- and down-stream capacities, intervention by non-industrial actors as well as geopolitical developments. Uncertainties with regard to supply and demand made production planning and investment decisions more difficult. Improved transparency would allow a better assessment of future energy requirements and facilitate development of clear energy policies. Ministers and CEOs highlighted the importance of JODI to that end.

Partnerships between producing and consuming countries, as well as between national and international oil companies would improve energy security. As would unhindered access to markets and resources. Geopolitical factors, including sanctions and embargos, have had negative impact on some investment.

While energy and financial resources are abundant, appropriate, stable and transparent economic, fiscal and legal frameworks would direct investment towards regions and sectors with potential. 

The role of technology in helping to meet future energy demand was underscored. New technology could increase and diversify energy supplies, improve energy efficiency, provide solutions to environmental issues and reduce costs. 

Companies and governments should jointly address the present shortage in the industry of human resources with appropriate technical and scientific skills. They should work together to restore interest in technical subjects required and to improve the image of the industry for prospective employees. 

Ministers and CEOs underscores that, in a world of increasing interdependencies, enhanced dialogue between governments, as well as between governments and industry, is essential for meeting the energy challenges ahead, not least in developing countries, in a sustainable way. 

Executive Board 

Let me in conclusion thank the Executive Board of the Secretariat, chaired by Dr. Ramzi Salman of our 10th IEF host country Qatar, for its support and guidance. As you are aware, a new Executive Board will be selected immediately after this Ministerial, chaired by Italy, to serve to the next IEF Ministerial in Rome. We are encouraged by the interest shown by many countries to serve on the Executive Board and in the Informal Support Group.

The IEA and OPEC Secretariats, with which we interact closely and which serve on our Executive Board, will now present their latest energy outlooks setting the scene for your discussions.