14th United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development

9 May 2006   |   New York, United States of America

This 14th UNCSD is putting a timely focus on energy. Energy is crucial for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. And energy security concern is today at the top of the political agenda world-wide. Energy is important for economic and social development in individual countries. Energy affects commercial and political relations between countries. Energy fuels the world economy and impacts the environment. Energy influences international politics and international politics influence energy developments.

The Secretariat of the International Energy Forum is happy for the opportunity together with the UNDESA and our other partner organizations to host this side-event to present the Joint Oil Data Initiative. This unique initiative is increasingly being recognized as a vehicle to more transparency, and hence less volatility in the oil market, providing better predictability for investment decisions crucial to overall energy security.

Political level energy dialogue

But first a word about the International Energy Forum. The World Commission on Environment and Development emphasized in its report “Our Common Future” almost twenty years ago the importance of energy for sustainable economic and social development and not least the importance of oil prices for international energy policy. It recommended that new mechanisms for encouraging dialogue between consumers and producers be explored.

On that note, the Chairperson of the Commission and Prime Minister of Norway, Dr. Brundtland called in the late 1980’s for an informal “Workshop” of Ministers of energy producing and consuming countries to discuss the resource and market perspectives as well as the links between energy and environment. Many were ready to try, but important countries regarded the very idea of a dialogue on these matters at political level as a non-starter, even as outright dangerous. Some seemed to regard the differences and conflicts between producers and consumers as permanent facts of life, a divide that no political level dialogue could bridge, or should even attempt to bridge.

The Gulf War in 1990-91 highlighted again the geo-political and economic importance of oil. It proved a turning point for the idea of dialogue at political level. A more co-operative atmosphere between producers and consumers ensued. It had become increasingly clear that sharply fluctuating oil prices were detrimental to both producers and consumers and that there could be no long-term winners in troubled energy markets. Less volatility in energy markets and stable prices at a reasonable level for consumers and producers emerged as a shared ambition and new co-operative mantra.

The first Ministerial meeting, in what developed as an informal energy dialogue process at political level, took place in Paris in 1991. The 10th Meeting of Ministers in the International Energy Forum took place in Doha, Qatar less than three weeks ago gathering Ministers and senior officials of 59 countries at a time of heightened global energy consciousness. Ministers of energy producing and consuming countries, the major industrialized as well as developing countries, meeting under one global political umbrella. Across traditional political, economic and energy policy groupings and dividing lines in our ever-more interdependent world. They focused on a cluster of issues related to energy security and the links between energy, environment and economic development. At the Doha Meeting, Ministers interacted also with CEOs of leading national and international oil companies.

Their consensus was clear: The world will need more and cleaner energy used in a more efficient way, accessible and affordable to a larger share of the world’s population. The challenge lies in operationalizing this imperative in a fair and sustainable way. It has to be purposefully addressed in national policies as well as in bilateral, regional, inter-regional and wider global co-operation. In dialogue and co-operation not only between governments. Also industry itself and other stakeholders have their integrated role to play.

Data and transparency

IEF Energy Ministers underscore their continued commitment to developing the Joint Oil Data Initiative. JODI for short. Ministers have also elsewhere, notably in the G8 and in regional contexts, expressed their support to JODI.

The Joint Oil Data Initiative is a concrete outcome and achievement of the producer consumer dialogue. Co-ordination of this unique inter-organizational initiative is a flagship Secretariat activity. Our co-ordinating role is fully and actively supported by the six international organizations that have pioneered the Initiative: APEC, Eurostat, OLADE, OPEC, IEA and the UN.

More than 90 countries, representing more than 90% of global oil supply and demand, are now submitting data to JODI. The data cover production, demand and stocks of seven product categories: crude oil, LPG, gasoline, kerosene, diesel oil, fuel oil and total oil. For many countries, especially the top 30 producers and consumers, timeliness, coverage and reliability are already at reasonable levels.

The IEF Secretariat is managing the World Database of the Joint Oil Data Initiative on behalf of partner organizations. This World Database was released to the public by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the presence of Ministers of key energy producing and consuming countries on occasion of the inauguration of our Secretariat headquarters in Riyadh in November last year. 

To help enhance the quality of data, the Secretariat will also facilitate JODI training sessions in Africa and Latin America in co-operation with IEF countries and regional organizations directly concerned. The Secretariat will host the 6th JODI Conference in Riyadh in November this year. 

On the back page of the special brochure on JODI, that we have distributed, you will see a chart with smiling, neutral and grumpy faces for each country participating in JODI. These faces indicate the JODI partners’ degree of satisfaction with each individual country with regard to the submission, timeliness and completeness of their data. JODI is international ambition translated into action with the objective of improving the quality and transparency of international oil statistics. It is promising work in progress with great potential. 

The success of the initiative will be determined by the collective ability of participants to sustain and improve their efforts. The submission of timely and accurate data by participating countries is crucial for its success. Some Ministers are already calling for JODI to be expanded, in due course, to include also other sources of energy important in the world energy mix.