UAE minister calls on Big Oil to join fight on climate change

DUBAI/HOUSTON: A cabinet minister and top oil executive from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday (March 6) called on the energy industry to join the fight against climate change by repeating a famous phrase from a US astronaut aboard a damaged spacecraft during the Apollo 13 mission borrowed 1970.

“Houston, we have a problem,” said Sultan al-Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates and chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – president-elect of the COP28 climate summit – to loud applause from the nearly 1,000 participants at the Energy conference CERAWeek.

“The energy leaders in this space have the knowledge, experience, expertise and resources needed to address the twin challenges of driving sustainable progress while curbing emissions,” Jaber said in his speech to an audience which also included OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais and US Climate Ambassador John Kerry.

Jaber and Kerry, who walked onto the stage and shook Jaber’s hand at the end of the speech, left the room together. The two met on the Sunday before the conference.

Jaber was a controversial choice to chair the COP28 climate summit because his country is an Opec member and a major oil exporter. The UAE is only the second Arab country to host the conference, after Egypt in 2022.

He urged his colleagues to get behind efforts to limit global warming. “Alongside all industries, the oil and gas industry needs to up its game, do more and do it faster,” Jaber said.

The recent inclusion of oil and gas officials at the United Nations-backed climate conference is a far cry from the 2021 summit, where energy companies complained they were being left out of the event.

Jaber’s appointment as COP28 president last year fueled campaigners’ fears that the oil industry was hijacking the world’s response to the global warming crisis.

Some activists urged him to give up his Adnoc role to headline the event. Jaber’s COP28 presidency includes setting the conference agenda and intergovernmental negotiations.

But others say the entire energy industry needs to be involved in the energy transition. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered an energy crisis that underscored its continued reliance on fossil fuels and vulnerability to supply disruptions.

On Monday, Jaber emphasized that he would “consult and meet” with all members of the energy world.

“This industry has to take responsibility and lead,” he said of the oil and gas sector. “Let’s remember that progress comes through partnership, not polarization.”

Separately, US Energy Envoy Amos Hochstein told reporters on the sidelines of the conference that the price caps imposed by the Group of Seven (G7) and allies to force Russia to sell its crude oil and fuel at a discount are working well.

The United States was one of the architects of price caps on Russian oil aimed at preventing a major disruption in supplies from Russia but reducing Moscow’s revenues from crude oil and fuel exports.

The G7 countries, the European Union and Australia introduced the price cap for sea freight of Russian oil on December 5, raising it to US$60 (RM268.35) a barrel as part of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine firmly. On February 5, the G7 and its allies introduced a price cap on Russian fuel sales.

“I think the beauty of the process is that it works and that Russian oil and Russian products are trading below the price cap,” Hochstein said.

Russia, which produces around 10% of the world’s oil supplies, announced in February it would cut production by 500,000 barrels a day, or about 5% of Russian production, in response to the price cap.

Hochstein said the cut had little impact on the prices buyers paid for Russian oil. – Reuters UAE minister calls on Big Oil to join fight on climate change

Andrew Schnitker

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