February 18, 2008
Sadek Boussena, Algeria‘s former energy minister and former chairman and CEO of Sonatrach, the Algerian state-owned oil and gas company, closed the session by giving a producer country’s point of view.Boussena was highly critical of what he called the “obsession” in the Western world with security of supply, saying the concept could mean something quite different from a supplier country’s perspective. Alluding to the Iraq war, Boussena said he was once asked, while giving a lecture in an Arab university, whether the country had a chance of being invaded due to its oil and gas resources. “For rich countries, security of supply is a clear thing, for the others, it is quite different,” Boussena said.Boussena also called for consuming countries to “temper” their demands regarding investment in spare oil production capacity. “OPEC countries are being asked to invest in spare capacity, just in case something happens, for the sake of bringing comfort to the market,” Boussena said ironically. “This has to be tempered. The markets are nervous, it is a normal thing.” Commenting on high oil and gas prices, Boussena added that “very low prices are bad, they destabilise producing countries and do not encourage investments”.Turning to “oil nationalism” and the complaints by international oil ‘majors’ that they are being denied access to resources in producer countries, Boussena was strict. “International oil companies have to understand that things have changed,” he said, calling for European and US companies to “foster partnerships that go beyond oil to find a balance of interest” which also favours the host countries.
“Producer countries are not only producer countries,” Boussena insisted. “They too are looking forward to more sustainable development.” Moving on to the issue of democracy in producer countries, Boussena asked: “What does the EU prefer? Dealing with dictatorships which take quick decisions but can change their minds or negotiating with slower regimes where decisions take time but are debated across society?”
From Eur ActivAuthor : EMI