Interview with OPEC president Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah
Interview with Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and member of Kuwait's ruling family.
What problems do you intend to discuss with the Russian leadership?
We are interested in dialogue between both fuel-consuming and fuel-exporting countries. Of all the countries that are not OPEC members, Russia is the largest supplier of oil on the world market. But we do not see Russia today as a competitor; on the contrary, coordinated efforts with your country are required in order to preserve the stability of the oil market. This has become easier to ensure, as in recent years Russia has attended many sittings of our organisation as an observer.
Also, this is a historic moment, as in a week's time, from 1 January, Russia will become president of the G8. For the first time in the history of this organisation of industrially developed states, it is being headed by a country that is an exporter of fuel rather than a consumer. Prior to this the G8 has contemplated the global fuel market primarily from a consumer's point of view.
We, the suppliers, want to assure consumers that we will be able to meet their growing demand for fuel. Another issue is oil processing and prices of oil products. In our view, responsibility for high prices rests not so much with OPEC and other suppliers, but more with the consumer countries. Oil product prices, whose growth hurts regular citizens, are high because of the environmental and tax policies of these countries. These problems require discussion. The European Union itself has acknowledged the existence of this problem and, as you will have noticed, they no longer blame OPEC for Europe's high petrol prices, as this is due to their high taxes.
But how can Russia help resolve these problems?
Through its G8 presidency, as a minimum, Russia can elaborate the position of the fuel-producing countries to the consumers. Exchange of information is very important, and it is important that politicians also receive information. Responsibility for global fuel markets rests with consumers as well as suppliers.
OPEC once expressed concern over growth in Russian oil production, fearing that this would cause reduction in global oil prices.
Now the market is able to support growth in volume of fuel deliveries. Russia is the second-largest oil producer in the world after Saudi Arabia. For a brief period, Russia was in first place, but now it is back in second, producing around 9 million barrels per day.
But even if in 20 years' time Russia is producing over 11 million barrels per day, as is planned, the market will absorb even such a volume.
'Vremya Novostey' (News Time)
Unofficial translation from Russian