Remarks, as prepared for delivery, by Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman at the opening of the OPEC+ meeting on 4 January 2021.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the first OPEC+ ministerial meeting of 2021.
I wish you all a very happy New Year.
I would like to recognize the work of the co-chair, Alexander Novak, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, whose continued dedication and leadership have, once more, been vital in helping us progress towards our goals.
Allow me to welcome HE Mohammed Abdullatif al-Fares, the energy minister of Kuwait, and give thanks for the work of his predecessor, Khaled al-Fadhel.
I also want to welcome the HE Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, minister of mineral resources, petroleum and gas of Angola, as he assumes the OPEC presidency.
Our thanks are due to HE Abdelmadjid Attar for his sterling work and leadership during his time as president.
As ever, I thank the OPEC Secretariat for the ongoing support provided to these meetings.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am sure that each of us has a story to tell of the rollercoaster ride we experienced, and of the trials and tribulations we faced in the year just gone.
But when the historians look back on this period, we should hope they write a big chapter on the extraordinary successes OPEC+ has achieved in 2020, in the face of such acute adversity.
Not only did we achieve the biggest ever cuts to oil supply, but we also saw those cuts through, in a disciplined and united manner, that said a lot about the effectiveness of our joint efforts.
We achieved the highest levels of conformity in the four years OPEC+ has been operating, and for the first time we agreed a mechanism for compensation to make up for any past slippage from our goals.
Let’s hope we can continue to build on the past year’s momentum, and succeed in achieving full compensation.
Our collaborative approach has helped us go a long way towards rebalancing global oil markets after the shocks of last year.
But now, as we see light at the end of the tunnel, we must — at all costs — avoid the temptation to slacken off our resolve.
It is true that the arrival of several vaccines against the COVID-19 virus is a very welcome sign.
I said before that vaccination would be the single most important factor in bringing about economic recovery, leading to a sustained improvement in demand for oil.
We have seen this in the general return to optimism within the market since the first vaccines were authorized late last year.
But, at the risk of being seen as a killjoy in the proceedings, I want to urge caution, even in this generally optimistic environment.
The level of uncertainty in the world remains high.
Global oil demand is still well short of where it was at the beginning of the year. Demand for transport fuels, in particular aviation fuel, is especially fragile.
The new variant of the disease is a worrying and unpredictable development.
In many parts of the world, where infection rates have increased worryingly, a new wave of lockdowns and restrictions are being put in place, which will inevitably impact the rate of economic recovery in those countries.
So I urge you today NOT to take for granted the progress we have made as a group over the past year.
Do not put at risk all that we have achieved for the sake of an instant, but illusory, benefit.
As well as caution, I also urge a sense of responsibility — because our job is not yet done, and there is plenty of hard effort still to be undertaken.
We must remain vigilant and proactive in the face of any unwelcome developments.
As we agreed at the last meeting, we must retain the flexibility to respond to events as they occur and make the necessary adjustments to attend to the markets’ needs.
We should make every effort to achieve both full compliance and full compensation.
There is no room for complacency.
The markets have rewarded our determined efforts of the past year, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels.