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Tenth IEF Ministerial Meeting

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The 10th International Energy Forum Ministerial was held in Doha, Qatar on 22-24 April hosted by H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar, and co-hosted by China and Italy. The theme of the Ministerial was 'Energy Security'. 59 countries and six international organisations took part. For those of you who like to look for historical dimensions, I may say that never before in the history of human civilization have so many energy ministers been gathered at any one place at any one time. It was, indeed, an impressive platform for deepening global dialogue on energy at a time of heightened energy consciousness around the world. And Ministers made good use of this informal venue for bilateral and regional meetings.

Recognizing the importance of active involvement of industry itself to enhance a purposeful producer-consumer dialogue at political level, Ministers met with CEOs and other high-level officials of thirty-two major international and national oil companies in the 2nd International Energy Business Forum the day before their internal discussions.

Thank you for coming to the Secretariat's new headquarters this morning. I have invited Ambassadors of those countries, which participate in the IEF, to brief you on the Doha event. In fact, some Riyadh based Ambassadors, accredited to Qatar, were themselves present at the Doha Ministerial. 

Many of you have visited our offices before. Not least when the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud inaugurated our headquarter premises in November last year. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided the Secretariat with these headquarters as a generous contribution in kind. On that inaugural occasion, H.E. Minister Al-Naimi, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, convened a meeting of Ministers of IEF countries. We have also appreciated your individual visits to the Secretariat. We regard you and your embassies as a very supportive link to the capitals of our participating countries. Our doors are always open to you. 

May I use this opportunity to introduce to you Dr. Said Nachet, a French national, who is now taking over the important position of Energy Director in the Secretariat from Mr. Kazuo Kawahara, who is returning to Japan, having been with us for two pioneering years. Let me also introduce our new Finance and Administration Director Professor Obaid, a Saudi national, who joined our staff in October last year. 

We have provided for you a folder with summaries of the Doha IEF and IEBF along with some other documents, including a report on our activity last year and a background paper presented to Ministers on achievements of fifteen years of producer-consumer dialogue at political level.

Unique global gathering

The IEF is a unique global gathering of Ministers across traditional political, economic and energy policy dividing lines and affiliations. It gathers under one umbrella, Ministers not only from the industrialized consumer nations of the IEA/OECD and Ministers of the petroleum exporting countries of OPEC, but very importantly also Ministers of key energy countries that are not members of those organizations, such as China, India, Russia and others that increasingly will influence the global energy scenario.

Discussions are informal and take place under Chatham House rules. The press does not listen in. And Ministers do not make decisions, negotiate or adopt consensus conclusions as they would do in other international organisations. It is, however, customary that the host and co-hosts of each Ministerial issue, on their own responsibility, some summary conclusions. That is also the character of the paper you have in your folder. 

Shared perspectives

Not surprisingly, oil was a key topic when Ministers discussed energy security in Doha. They noted that world economic growth had remained strong despite increasing oil prices and market volatility. They expressed concern over effects of sustained high price levels on the world economy, and especially on developing countries. Ministers confirmed their shared interest in reduced market volatility and prices at reasonable levels for both consumers and producers. They noted increasing producer and consumer interdependencies.

Present higher oil prices were attributed to a number of factors, including increasing demand, tight up- and down stream capacities, intervention of non-industrial actors and geo-political developments which contribute to increased anxiety in the market. 

Ministers underlined the importance of strengthening dialogue and co-operation not only between governments, but also between governments and industry with a view ensuring reliability, security and affordability of energy. They called for a stepping up of investments across the energy chain to meet the substantial increase in demand required for global economic growth and social development in the years ahead.

The consensus is that the world will continue to rely strongly on fossil fuels, oil, natural gas and coal, supplies of which are ample. Ministers thus underlined the need to accelerate the development of cleaner fossil fuel technologies and alternative sources of energy and to increase energy efficiency. They also emphasized the need to facilitate specialized education and training of human resources.

Ministers underscored that improved access to markets, resources, technology and financial services, bolstered by fair and transparent economic fiscal and legal regulatory frameworks, and by good governance, is crucial for the long-term energy security of both consumers and producers.

They furthermore underlined the importance of transparency and exchange of data for market predictability and thus for the investments required to enhance energy security. They reaffirmed their support to the Joint Oil Data Initiative, which the Secretariat is coordinating, with the support of the IEA and OPEC, APEC, Eurostat, OLADE and the UN. And they envisaged the initative, in due course, being expanded to include also other sources of energy that are important in the world energy mix.

'All Roads lead to Rome'. That is true also for the International Energy Forum. Italy will host the next Ministerial in Rome in 2008. India and Mexico are co-hosting countries. Before that the Secretariat will facilitate supportive meetings at Ministerial and officials' level and also interact with industry, providing continuity to the producer-consumer dialogue in the IEF.

In the pipeline

Following up the Doha Ministerial, let me mention some activity highlights in the immediate pipeline. 

The Secretariat has been invited to present IEF perspectives on energy security to the ministerial segment of 14th United Nations Commission on Environment and Development that will start in New York this week. Energy is the theme of the Commission's work this year and next. We will also in that context, with our JODI partners, host a side-event on the Joint Oil Data Initiative. We will also present the results of the Doha Ministerial to the 8th Arab Energy Conference in Jordan mid May. We presented IEF perspectives to G8 Energy Ministers in Moscow last month and are looking forward to make our further contribution in theirpreparations for the St. Petersburg Summit. Energy Security is the priority theme of the Russian G8 Presidency.

Here in Riyadh, we will invite Embassies and the local and regional energy community to a meeting that we are hosting in our Headquarters on 24 May, when the World Energy Council will present their work on energy scenarios up to 2050. We also expect a have a meeting of our new Executive Board here in Riyadh at the end of the month bringing representatives from some your capitals to town. In November we will host a major energy event - the 6th JODI Conference. 

Let me use this opportunity, to invite you to bring your national energy delegations on bilateral visit to Riyadh to the Secretariat if their programme allows. The Secretariat would be happy also to provide, through an IEF Lecture, your visiting Ministers with an international platform from which to make a major policy speech. The first IEF Lecture was given by India's Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas in March last year. Minister Aiyar presented, as some of you will remember, his 'Asian Energy Vision' to the energy and diplomatic community and Saudi officials here in Riyadh. 

We are also urging governments to consider seconding personnel to the Secretariat on an ad hoc basis for limited periods of time for specific tasks and projects of mutual interest..

In conclusion JODI

Excellencies, you have heard and will hear much more about the Joint Oil Data Initiative. On the occasion of the inauguration of our Headquarters, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, 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 expressed their support to the development of JODI. Notably also the G8 Heads of Government at their Gleneagles Summit last year have underscored the importance of JODI. It is seen as a promising vehicle to more transparency and hence less volatility in the oil market, providing better predictability for investment decisions crucial to overall energy security. 

Before opening the floor for your questions and comments, we would like to give you a 4-5 minute Ambassadors' summary of JODI to give you some idea of what it is all about. Let me introduce our energy analyst Mr. Bruno Castellano, a dual French and Italian national, also called Mr. JODI, who will make his brief presentation.

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