Oil producers must remain “extremely cautious” amid COVID-19 situation; Energy minister

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Salman has opined that it is too early to declare victory over coronavirus, and hence oil producers must continue to maintain the utmost caution.

“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 talking at 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). Global energy industry leaders have gathered together in the event to explore the way forward after the most turbulent year in the history of the energy market.

Abdul Aziz Bin Salman
Abdul Aziz Bin Salman
Minister of Energy
Saudi Arabia

“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. 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.”

Praising the Saudi role in combating the pandemic, the minister noted, “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.”

Prince Abdul Aziz has commented that the historical production adjustments made by OPEC producing countries and the non-OPEC producing countries helped to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will further enhance 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 about the ongoing pandemic situation.

“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. 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 concluded.

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