Minister Al-Naimi Address at the 5th Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable in Seoul

September 12, 2013

Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished guests.

I would like to thank the International Energy Forum for inviting me to attend this important gathering, and for the government of Korea for being such a generous host. It is a vital opportunity for Asian nations to promote dialogue between oil producing and consuming nations in Asia and, as such, is rightly seen as a key international meeting.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has forged particularly close energy bonds with Asian nations over the past decades. These relationships are based on trust and friendship, both business and personal.

It is a particular pleasure to be back here in the Republic of Korea, a country I first visited in 1990. The following year, in 1991, I am proud to say that, in S-Oil, we signed one of our most successful joint ventures. I have returned many times since, and enjoyed the wonderful hiking, the delicious food and the fun-loving attitude of my Korean hosts. My only effort at karaoke confirmed I made the right decision to be an earth scientist…

Ladies and gentlemen.

Today, I will offer brief thoughts on three points. First, Asia’s key role in global energy affairs. Second, I will cover some of today’s energy issues. Lastly, I will briefly look ahead at what the future holds.

We all know about the importance of Asia to the global economy, particularly in terms of trade and energy. The region has helped sustain global economic growth over the last few years. And economies across the region are continuing to show positive signs of growth going forward.

Hand-in-hand with this growth is increased demand for energy. This growing demand in Asia is derived from increasing populations, greater urbanization and rising income levels. If new businesses are to prosper, they require energy. If living standards are to continue to rise, they need energy. This is natural, and to be expected. But while these issues pose clear challenges for policy makers, they also present great opportunities for partnerships and joint ventures.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has entered into a number of enduring trade and business relationships within Asia, many based on energy, but also in a broad range of other industries. Saudi Arabia has also played its role in terms of being a stable and reliable supplier of energy within Asia. In fact, we have been Asia’s greatest supplier over the decades and I am sure this will continue well into the future.

Ladies and gentlemen. This brings me to the next part of my address here today: current energy issues.

First, I would like to comment on current oil price levels. Clearly, geopolitics – and speculation about geopolitics – is impacting prices. But, for the record, oil market fundamentals are good, the market is well-balanced, and stocks remain within range. I repeat the message that Saudi Arabia, and other producers, remain willing and capable of meeting any additional demands.

A second topic attracting attention is the rise, and impact, of tight or shale oil and gas. While the US is taking a lead, Asia also has potential, and I welcome the developments. As I have stated before, I see these new reserves bringing increased depth and stability to world markets. Greater demand in Asia will require increased supplies, from wherever they come. Saudi Arabia’s commitment to Asia will remain unwavering.

A third issue facing all nations is investment in energy infrastructure. While locating and extracting new resources is one thing, getting it to people and industry requires long-term plans and large investments. Ultimately, stable prices are key to this. That is why the International Energy Forum has such a vital role to play, and why I call on all nations in Asia to continue to support the work of the IEF in helping increase transparency.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, what does the future hold? Of course, I cannot predict the future any more than the next man, but prospects for global economic growth appear positive. And I cannot help but notice that this upturn in potential is closely tied to developments in the increasing range of energy supplies.

I hope that policy makers and energy companies take a long-term view that places economic development and rising living standards before short-term profits.
Also, I hope that all parts of the energy industry can increasingly work together to ensure price transparency, and that this in turn helps bring greater price stability. And, of course, I trust that all new developments take into account the importance of protecting the environment for future generations.

Ladies and gentlemen. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will continue to meet all the demands placed upon it, and will continue to be a trusted partner within Asia. Again, I thank our Korean hosts for their hospitality and friendship. And I look forward to an interesting and informative event.

Thank you.