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Mohammad Barkind acknowledged that Venezuela's role has been crucial in OPEC's moments of crisis, and will continue to be so in the future.
The Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo, in an exclusive interview with the international channel teleSUR, acknowledged this Friday that Venezuela has played a key role in the evolution of the institution and will continue to do so, in the framework of a visit to that country for the 60th anniversary of the founding of OPEC.
Barkindo did not hesitate to qualify 2020 as the most challenging year in the history of the organization, as a consequence of Covid-19. "From 100 million barrels per day of demand we dropped to 22 million in April and then made an adjustment to 9.6 million per day. Our most difficult decision and response to the collapse," he added.
In this regard, he said that President Nicolás Maduro played a fundamental role in the face of this crisis, while he pointed out that the decision to seek balance in the market was extended until December 2022, when normally the block's decisions are valid for six to 12 months.
"The world stopped and governments had to take extreme measures to contain the virus. Nobody traveled, everything closed down, people were afraid to meet, and therefore the demand for oil and energy collapsed, and there was an unprecedented collapse in prices," said the head of the bloc.
Regarding the current energy scenario, Barkindo highlighted the position of Venezuela and its president, which in spite of being subject to sanctions and under the pressure of an economic war, are maintaining their responsibility towards the organization, reinventing themselves and rescuing the oil industry as a whole.
"The oil industry has to survive. Venezuela has the largest reserves in the world, and these belong to the whole world, as it will continue to consume oil and gas in the future. The sanctions against Venezuela are also against Africa and other parts of the world without access to these fuel sources," emphasized Barkind.
In this regard, the official warned about two crises facing the contemporary world: climate change and energy poverty. "There are more than 600 million people in Africa without access to electricity, and 900 million without access to any kind of clean fuel for cooking. Sentencing them to energy poverty is not acceptable."
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Barkind added that when experts and international media considered that OPEC would disappear by 2016, after the imbalance between supply and demand in the oil market, the excessive increase in supplies and the accumulation of world inventories, and the collapse of prices to less than ten dollars a barrel, Maduro rightly helped to circumvent the crisis.
"Maduro warned about the urgency of working together to rescue the stability of the oil market, since the world energy landscape had changed and it was not feasible for OPEC alone to sustain all the production and, accordingly, other non-member producing countries were attracted and a new cooperation framework known as OPEC plus was achieved," he said.
These efforts brought together countries such as Russia, Mexico, Oman, Kazakhstan and others, and Barkindo argued that there is a strong joint conviction about the need to implement, take and monitor decisions together, in order to have a strong coalition which will ensure the future of the entity in the post COVID-19 era.
Barkind also acknowledged the role of the Venezuelan nation since the founding of OPEC, first through diplomat Pablo Perez Alfonso and then with Commander Hugo Chavez before the crisis and decline of the entity starting in 1999.
"We are satisfied with the implementation of these decisions, achieved at more than 100 percent, and the market has responded satisfactorily. We remain hopeful that this situation will be resolved. Venezuela is central and we are optimistic that better days are ahead," he concluded.