Dubai: It is too early to declare victory over coronavirus and hence oil producers must continue to exercise the utmost caution, said Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Salman.
“We are in a much better position than we were a year ago, but there is a lot of ambiguity and we have to be very careful,” the minister added while inaugurating the 11th symposium on energy outlooks, organized jointly by the International Energy Forum, the International Energy Agency and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Leaders of global energy industry gathered to discuss the way forward after the most tumultuous year in the history of energy sector. The Riyadh-based International Energy Forum (IEF) is the world’s largest international organization of energy ministers from 70 countries and includes both producing and consuming countries.
Prince Abdul Aziz said that a lot of incidents have happened since the last meeting of IEF held in February 2020.
“At that time, we were able to meet face to face as we were in the early phases of this crisis, which the World Health Organization (WHO) later declared a pandemic.
“Who would have thought at the time that after a year we would meet remotely instead of meeting at the headquarters of the IEF in Riyadh,” he said while pointing out that this shows how it was impossible to anticipate the events.
“You will remember that in my speech during the meeting last year I warned about the potential impact of this pandemic on the oil market and stressed the need for vigilance and action.
“I had said at the time that the pandemic was like a burning house and that we had two options: either try to extinguish it with a water hose or call the fire brigade,” he said.
Lauding the Saudi role in tackling the pandemic, the minister said: “The results since then showed that the Kingdom’s opinion of the help of professional firefighters was the right one.
“It took some time for others to accept this opinion, and at that time we needed several firefighting teams,” he said.
Prince Abdul Aziz said that the historical production adjustments made by OPEC producing countries and the non-OPEC producing countries were followed by the great support we have achieved in the extraordinary meeting of energy ministers of the G20 countries during the Kingdom’s presidency in April 2020, and those adjustments cushioned the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus enhancing energy security and market stability.
“We are now in a much better position than we were last year, but I warn again against complacency. The level of uncertainty is very high and we have to be very careful, and vigilance is what we learned from last year’s harsh events,” he said while indicating that the match is still going on.
“It is too early to celebrate or announce any victory over the virus, and the referee has not yet blown the final whistle. Let us hope that we will apply what we have learned from the lessons of the past year,” he said.
He noted that trying to predict the future, even the near future, is futile. “The best thing we have to do is to enhance our readiness and flexibility, realizing that collective action is the ideal way to meet the upcoming challenges,” the minister added.