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CERAWeek 2016: Charting A Path Forward

HE Ali I. Al-Naimi (right), Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, is pictured on stage for a Q&A session with moderator Daniel Yergin, chairman of CERAWeek and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the book, The Prize.

World energy leaders — about 3,000 in all — gathered at the IHS CERAWeek annual conference, held Feb. 22-26 in Houston, for an important dialogue on the state of the industry. Participants included energy ministers, policymakers, senior business executives, and other delegates from about 60 countries.
Although the market outlook was front and center during the weeklong conference — with an analysis of contributing factors such as current global supply levels and geopolitics — another parallel theme focused on what providers can do now to maintain a healthy balance sheet, yet also invest for the long-term.
Joining the discussions were HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, who provided the opening ministerial address on Feb. 23, and Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, Saudi Aramco senior vice president of Upstream, who later that day participated in a plenary panel session on the global upstream sector.

'Allow the market to work'
In his address, Al-Naimi talked about the international oil market, its cyclical history, the current state of the market, and the growing concern of climate change.
He began by remarking that, as an industry, there is "more that unites us than divides us."
Energy providers share a common mission to meet global demand, yet must also deal with the highs and lows associated with the oil commodities market. "We are all in it together," he commented.
"We are dealing with a challenging market that is much more sophisticated and complex,” he added. “There are a lot of new players and financial instruments that didn't exist 35 years ago." The most efficient way to rebalance supply and demand, he said, is just "to simply let the market work."
Al-Naimi further said, “we must continue to work together and we must stick together if we want to achieve our common goal of supplying energy for the betterment of the world and humankind."
Future of upstream
During the afternoon Upstream Plenary, Al Qahtani joined panelists to talk about the upstream sector, particularly the need to continue investments in spite of market uncertainty.
"Just as the present situation is the result of decisions made earlier," Al Qahtani said, "the future course of the upstream industry will be guided by the choices companies, regulators, and consumers make right now."
Global demand for energy will certainly grow; all indicators show it, Al Qahtani said.  He
outlined five factors essential for success: the attraction of capital, cost management, manpower, research and development (R&D), and resilience through diversification.
Successful upstream enterprises, he concluded, "will be those that can compete in a more volatile environment and demonstrate the greatest flexibility, flair for innovation, and vision."

Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani (left), Saudi Aramco Senior Vice President of Upstream, participates in the Upstream Plenary during CERAWeek 2016.


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