It is a pleasure being back in Delhi to sign with Dr. Pachauri a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation between the Secretariat of the International Energy Forum and The Energy and Resources Institute. We are honoured to do this in the presence of the Hon'ble Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India, Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar.
With this MoU, we are joining hands in our mutual endeavours to promote sustainable global energy development. We will put special focus on issues and activities related to energy security, efficient energy use and links between energy, environment and economic development.
Top of the Agenda
We are signing this co-operative tie-up at a time when energy security again is at the top of the international political and economic agenda. Government leaders are concerned. Because of the importance that energy has for economic and social developments in their individual countries, the importance energy has for political and economic relations between countries, for the world economy and the environment. We are witnessing new geo-political dimensions emerge as energy and international politics influence each other. It is difficult, indeed, to imagine an area, where nations are more interdependent than in the confluence of energy, environment and economic development.
Oil importing, industrialized countries warn of the detrimental impact that sustained, high oil prices will have on their individual economies and on the world economy. Oil-importing developing countries suffer even more than before from increasing oil import bills. Oil-exporting countries are producing what they can to help bring prices down. And making good money doing so. Surging demand in Asia, economic recovery, refinery bottlenecks, tight production capacity, as well as terrorist attacks and political uncertainties are driving factors behind the higher oil prices that we have today.
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. Most of this increase will come in the developing countries as they industrialize and their economies grow. In this longer-term perspective, production and consumption patterns, the energy mix as well as investment requirements, will evolve in a changing geopolitical environment and influence that changing geopolitical environment.
The bottom line is that the world will need more and cleaner energy, produced and used in a more efficient way, accessible and affordable to larger part of the world's growing population.
Venue for Dialogue among Ministers
The G8 Heads of Government highlighted in their statement on the Global Economy and Oil at Gleneagles earlier this month the importance of the political level dialogue between oil producing and oil consuming countries in the International Energy Forum. The G8 also emphasised the need to reduce oil market volatility through more comprehensive, transparent and timely data. They expressed their support of the IEF Secretariat's co-ordination of the Joint Oil Data Initiative launched by several international organizations, including the IEA, OPEC and UN.
The IEF is the venue for dialogue between more than 60 energy producing and consuming countries at the level of Ministers. It is unique in its global perspective and participation. Not only do the industrialized economies of the OECD in the International Energy Agency and the petroleum exporting countries of OPEC participate. But so do also, and very importantly, energy producing and consuming countries outside these main producer-consumer organizations. Countries such as India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa that will increasingly influence global developments in an evolving multi-polar energy world. In the IEF, Ministers exchange information and policy views, and look for consensus-oriented approaches to energy challenges ahead, across traditional economic, political and energy dividing lines.
We are now preparing for the 10th IEF Ministerial, which will take place in Qatar in April next year. Ministers will address the theme 'Fuelling the Future; Energy Security a Shared Responsibility.' As at previous IEF Ministerials, energy security will also be seen within the broader inter-relationship between energy, environment and economic development. And from the perspective of both industrialized and developing countries.
Hon'ble Minister, we are looking forward to your prominent participation at the Ministerial, and your continued use of the IEF as a global forum from which to voice Indian interests and perspectives in the common quest for energy security and a sustainable world energy order.
India an Active Participant
India is an active participant in the producer-consumer dialogue in the International Energy Forum. In fact, India hosted the 5th IEF Ministerial in Goa nine years ago. With your resources and talent as well as your political, economic and geographic position, India certainly has a leading role to play. I am happy to see that role being played as part of India's dynamic energy diplomacy as you seek to promote international energy co-operation and to secure the increasing amounts of energy, especially of oil and natural gas, needed to fuel your continued, rapid economic development in a sustainable way.
Minister Aiyar very successfully convened in New Delhi on 6 January this year, in association with the International Energy Forum Secretariat, the 'First Round Table of Asian Ministers on Regional Co-operation in the Oil and Gas Economy'. The Energy Ministers of the principal oil and gas exporting countries of West Asia met with those of the leading importing countries to the East in Asia. An impressive gathering. Ministers representing half of the World's population, the bulk of the World's remaining proven oil and gas reserves and, very importantly, the greater part of the surging global energy demand expected in the decades ahead. This first discussion on a regional Asian basis of energy security, stability and sustainability highlighted complementary interests and manifested a new Asian energy identity.
Such was their meeting of minds, that Ministers agreed there and then on follow up meetings in Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Kuwait. The IEF Secretariat was requested to facilitate the further process as an element in our global dialogue activity. To Dr. Pachauri and TERI let me alert you to the fact that this new Asian dialogue envisages a series of studies being made as input to Ministers in their policy discussions and shaping. With your past record and recognized competence, you might expect some knocks on the door with invitations to take part in enhancing this new and important regional dialogue endeavour.
Let me also thank Minister Aiyar for honouring us by presenting his 'Asian Energy Vision' when he gave the 1st IEF Lecture in Riyadh in March this year. This was the first of what will be a series of lectures hosted by the IEF Secretariat that offer Ministers an international rostrum from which to make major policy speeches when visiting Saudi Arabia. Minister Aiyar's energy vision is being listened to also outside Asia, because it has global impact.
The global dialogue is definitely also about regional and inter-regional dialogue in a multi-polar energy world. Regional solutions can be stepping stones towards global solutions. The Secretariat has a catalyst role to play in linking regional and inter-regional activities to the global dialogue in the IEF.
The energy challenges ahead are complex and cannot be met with a quick-fix once and for all. An on-going dialogue between governments at bilateral, regional, inter-regional and global level is required. Companies, international organizations, financial and research institutions have their role to play, in partnership with governments. The convening of Ministers in the International Energy Forum serves as a global political umbrella for this mosaic of dialogue and inter-relationships.
Let me in conclusion thank Minister Aiyar for India's strong support of the International Energy Forum and for his blessing the co-operative tie-up between the IEF Secretariat and The Energy and Resources Institute signed today. Dr. Pachauri and I are confident that the interaction between us that will follow in the wake of this Memorandum of Understanding will contribute to the further development of global and regional energy dialogue and co-operation. We will do what we can to help Ministers identify effective and sustainable ways of promoting global energy security and co-operation across traditional political, economic and energy policy dividing lines, in a world of increasing interdependencies.