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Opec says IEA has ‘vilified’ oil and gas producers

Opec secretary general Haitham Al Ghais has responded to the IEA Reuters
Opec secretary general Haitham Al Ghais believes 'the world has to concentrate on reducing emissions, not choosing energy sources'
  • Energy bodies at loggerheads
  • Opec focused on reducing emissions
  • Investment inadequate, says IEA

Opec has hit out at the International Energy Agency, saying the IEA has “unjustly vilified” the oil and gas industry by accusing it of being behind the climate crisis.

The organisation of leading oil producers responded on Monday to the IEA’s latest report about the industry’s transition to net zero.

Its statement highlighted the divergence of positions on how to address climate change, all of which will be at the centre of discussions at the Cop28 summit starting in Dubai on Thursday.

Opec secretary general Haitham Al Ghais said: “The manner in which the IEA has unfortunately used its social media platforms in recent days to criticise and instruct the oil and gas industry is undiplomatic, to say the least.”

The group said the Paris-based agency had an extremely narrow framing of global challenges, such as energy security, energy access and affordability, which must go hand-in-hand with reducing emissions.

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Al Ghais added: “At Opec, we believe the world has to concentrate on reducing emissions, not choosing energy sources.”

Opec says the industry is embracing renewables, with major investments being made, and financing technologies to reduce emissions.

However, in its report, the IEA pointed out that oil and gas companies currently account for just 1 percent of clean energy investment globally.

“The oil and gas industry invested around $20 billion in clean energy in 2022, or roughly 2.5 percent of its total capital spending,” the IEA said, adding that the number should increase to 50 percent. 

Opec and the IEA have clashed several times in recent months, mainly over predictions on long-term oil demand and the need to phase out fossil fuels.

The IEA sees oil demand peaking by 2030, while the Opec forecast sees demand continuing to grow.

The Cop28 conference, hosted by an Opec member and headed by Adnoc CEO Sultan Al Jaber, is also expected to be one of the most controversial.

Al Ghais has said Opec would be present at the climate talks. 

Opec+ consists of the Saudi-led Opec bloc of 13 countries and the Russian-led non-Opec group, which has 10 participants. It will hold its delayed ministerial meeting online on Thursday, the same day that Cop28 begins.

In its statement, Opec also defended carbon capture technology, which the IEA assessed in its report as an energy-intensive “illusion” that “should not serve to maintain the status quo.”

Al Ghais added: “We see a ‘moment of truth’ ahead. We need to understand that all countries have their own orderly energy transition pathways, that all voices are heard, not just a select few.”

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