Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Affairs Ali Al-Naimi today addressed the ongoing meeting in Vienna, Austria, of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and praised the fact that OPEC, having withstood many challenges and misconceptions, continues to exercise its role as an important actor in the energy market, the world economy and the economies of member states. This resilience, he added, can be explained by two basic factors: its very large share in the world's oil reserves; and the fact that it is an international organization of sovereign states whose objectives are to ensure oil market stability and continued supplies to the consumer as well as coordinating petroleum policies. Economic developments worldwide over the last few years, he said, have been shaping a new international energy regime compatible with and responding to the challenges of globalization. He noted that the wave of mergers sweeping the oil industry, the energy strategies of consuming countries, advances in technology, and concerns about the environment, all pose for OPEC direct challenges while creating tremendous opportunities. He remarked that oil prices in real terms are lower today than in the mid-1970s, pointing out that the purchasing power of U.S.$25 for a barrel of oil today is less than $7 after accounting for inflation. Speaking of the Kingdom's participation in forging strategic cooperation between international oil companies and national oil companies inside the Kingdom and abroad, he explained the setting up of joint venture refineries and petrochemical industries involving Saudi Aramco, SABIC, and international oil companies. Overseas, refining and marketing ventures involving Saudi Aramco and major players in the U.S., European and Far Eastern markets have also been launched.