OPEC Secretary General Blames Politicians for Rising Oil

By Rowena Edwards and Maha El Dahan

Aug 18 (Reuters) – Politicians, lawmakers and underinvestment in the oil and gas sector are to blame for high energy prices, not OPEC, the group’s secretary-general told Reuters on Thursday. , Haitham Al Ghais.

The lack of investment in the oil and gas sector following the drop in prices caused by COVID-19 has significantly reduced OPEC’s spare production capacity and its ability to respond quickly to potential further supply disruptions.

The price of benchmark Brent came close to hitting an all-time high of $147 a barrel in March, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine exacerbated supply concerns. While prices have fallen since then, they remain painfully high for consumers and businesses globally.

“Don’t blame OPEC, blame your own politicians and legislators, because OPEC and producing countries have pushed time and again for investment in oil (and gas),” Al Ghais said.

Investment in oil and gas is up 10% from last year but remains well below 2019 levels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said last month, adding that some of the immediate shortfalls of Russian exports must be covered by other production.

OPEC’s new secretary general also took aim at the lack of investment in the refining sector, adding that OPEC members have increased their capacity to offset the decline in Europe and the United States.

“We’re not saying the world is going to live off fossil fuels forever…but by saying we’re not going to invest in fossil fuels…you’re going from point A to point B overnight. Al-Ghais said.

OPEC exists to make sure the world has enough oil, but “it’s going to be very challenging and very difficult if you don’t accept the importance of investing,” he said, adding that he hopes “investors, financial institutions, policymakers as well as globally, take this issue seriously and factor it into their plans.” (Reporting by Rowena Edwards, Alex Lawler, Dmitry Zhdannikov, Maha El Dahan and Olesya Astakhova Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)

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