OPEC secretary general ponders energy security, transition
HOUSTON, March 7 (Xinhua)– Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said on Tuesday the energy industry needs considerable investment to meet rising global demand and ensure market stability as energy security concerns return to the fore.
Meanwhile, he said the oil and gas industry, which will retain its share as a critical component of the energy mix, must transform and decarbonize operations.
As COP28 comes up in Dubai later this year, “We at OPEC stand fully behind the UAE to bring on board everybody,” he said during the annual CERAWeek global energy forum in Houston.
SECURITY OF SUPPLY
“The key thing that we focus on is always trying to make sure that there is stability, there’s adequate supply to the market,” said the secretary general, warning of the “underinvestment” in hydrocarbons.
“We’ve seen a significant shortfall in investments in the oil sector,” he said.
It can take a long time to come into actual energy production since the typical span is a “few years at best” and up to seven years before new projects come online, he explained.
As the global economy doubles in size, energy demand will increase by 23 percent, but “there is no imaginable way renewables can alone do this (meet the demand),” he told the audience.
He said the energy industry needs 12.1 trillion U.S. dollars in capital investment. “Unless this happens, I’m afraid, honestly, that we could be facing issues in the future with regard to energy security and, accordingly, affordability,” he added.
“We are investing already, and we urge and call others to invest. It’s a global responsibility that OPEC cannot shoulder on its own,” he went on.
SECURITY OF DEMAND
Al Ghais said it is not a concern that Russia redirects its crude oil exports while Middle East exports are increasingly going to Europe, citing his 30 years of experience in the industry.
“It’s quite normal to see this,” he said, “We’ve always seen redirection of flows, whether it’s related to geopolitical events or demand centers being created and others disappearing. So this is typical where we have a redirection in flows from the east to the west or the west to the east.”
According to the forecast from OPEC, oil demand will increase by 2.3 million barrels a year, with the majority of the rise in demand coming from China and India, the secretary general said.
However, the global energy market is big enough despite improving demand, said Al Ghais.
“What concerns us more is actually the slowdown we see in Europe and the U.S. in terms of the financial situation and the inflation,” he said, noting a divided market is emerging on the demand side.
“There is phenomenal demand growth in Asia,” he said, and Russia’s oil production has been “resilient and managed to find new homes.”
He added that without the existence of OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, there would be more instability and volatility.
“With security of supply, there is also a requirement for security of demand, and the tools fit in together like hand and glove,” said the OPEC chief.
OPEC sees energy transitions as “absolutely an opportunity,” Al Ghais said.
“I don’t think it’s a threat. Again, it was something that we are already embracing. We believe this is an opportunity for us to meet our Paris Agreement goals,” he said.
“I think it’s important to look at the whole issue of energy transition, which I prefer to call energy transitions, by the way, not transition, with a sense of reality,” he said, “There is no one size fits all solution.”
Al Ghais said the energy transitions should “focus on different countries’ capabilities, circumstances, their potentials, their financial capabilities, and so forth.”
“When we talk about transition here in the U.S. or in Europe, it means nothing to other people around different parts of the world. What we take here for granted, like switching on the light, (a) switch is not available in other places in the world,” he went ahead, noting there are a million Africans alone who have no access to electricity.
The five-day CERAWeek will conclude on Friday and is focused on the dual challenges of meeting the world’s growing energy demand while reducing emissions.
More than 7,000 participants, including policymakers, industry leaders, company executives, investors and researchers from over 80 countries and regions, joined the forum, according to organizer S&P Global.
Parliamentary resolution calls for price control of goods and services in Ramadan
Maduvvari MP and opposition People’s National Congress’ (PNC) parliamentary group leader Adam Shareef Umar, on Monday, submitted a resolution to the parliament that calls upon the government to control the prices of goods and services during the month of Ramadan.
MP Adam Shareef’s resolution states that the prices of Maldivians’ staple food products have been increased by seven percent following the hike in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in January. It was also noted that prices increased by 7.82 percent last year, while inflation rose by 75 percent.
The resolution, referring to statistics publicized by the National Bureau of Statistics, said prices of eateries had increased by 4.3 percent.
Statistics publicized by the National Bureau of Statistics show that food prices increased the most between last year’s January and this year’s January. As per the authority, the prices of food products increased by 7.82 percent during this period.
MP Shareef, in his resolution, emphasized that most people have no avenue to increase their income while living expenses continue to gradually rise. He also alleged an increase in payable monies to the government in the guise of fines and others as the public brave through these difficult times.
Therewith, he called on the government to revise the GST rates which was increased and urged state-owned companies to decrease the prices of the services they provide. He also called on the government to control the prices of goods that have plunged above reach for the public, and make arrangements to ensure price control during the month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia deposits 5 bln USD at Turkish Central Bank
RIYADH, March 6 (Xinhua) — Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it had deposited 5 billion U.S. dollars at the Central Bank of Türkiye.
The deposit, which was part of an agreement between the Saudi Fund for Development and the Central Bank of Türkiye, revealed the close cooperation and historical ties between the two countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The kingdom’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre launched in February a nationwide donation campaign to help the earthquake-hit victims in Syria and Türkiye through an online platform.
China welcomes foreign companies to enter the Chinese market
China welcomes foreign companies, including those from the United States, to enter its market, share development dividends and jointly promote the growth of the global economy, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The remarks were made by the ministry’s spokesperson Mao Ning at a regular press briefing in response to media reports that many American enterprises plan to expand their business in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in South China’s latest survey, which shows that over 90 percent of respondent companies consider China one of the most important investment destinations.
Mao said the facts have proved that China is a promising market for foreign investment.
She said the one hand, it is a result of China’s huge market and complete industrial and supply chain networks, and on the other, it is due to China’s effort to firmly advance high-level opening-up, support the multilateral trading system and continuously provide foreign investors with a more market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment.
She noted that in January, China’s paid-in foreign direct investment (FDI) reached 127.69 billion yuan (nearly $19 billion), growing by 14.5 percent year on year. These numbers signal a good start for foreign investment in China this year.
She said foreign investors, including American companies, have been optimistic about China’s market and plan to increase their investments in China, and data from the U.S. Commerce Department shows that goods trade between the United States and China hit a record $690.6 billion in 2022.
All of these indicate that China-U.S. trade and investment cooperation is mutually beneficial and win-win, she said, stressing that decoupling is detrimental, unpopular and unfeasible.
“No matter how the international landscape may evolve, we will not change its resolve to open wider at a high standard,” said Mao. “We will not change our determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world.”
(Cover: A view of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China. /CFP)
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