Steve Sedgwick at the OPEC Meeting

A COOL Reception for OPEC


OPEC’s 145th meeting kicks off Tuesday and I have decided to personally take it upon myself to improve the image of the oil cartel by creating a new, not-for-profit, appreciation society.

It came to me in a flash during my preparations for the Vienna meeting that there are many out there in the globe, from politicians to NGOs, from corporations to eco-warriors, who secretly want to thank OPEC for all it is doing to promote global wellbeing of mankind and yet are unable to do so publicly for fear of appearing ingratiating to the world’s most powerful energy alliance.

As such, my group will be along the lines of the Bilderberg group, whereby there is no public acknowledgement of membership but a quiet sense of general purpose. And the name of my group will be COOL, which is the acronym for the "Confederation Of OPEC Love."

Who will join, I hear you ask. In short everyone and anyone. Let me go through a few immediate sign ups for membership; Samuel Bodman (the U.S. Energy Secretary) and several other key U.S. politicians are of course automatic members, for without OPEC they would have no scapegoat for the $3.20 cost of a gallon of gas on the West Coast this past driving season. Without OPEC attention may have well focused on the lack of refining build in the U.S. over the past 30 years. So surely a debt of honor is owed there?

Another immediate sign up will be all the CEOs of the world oil majors. This grouping would have been lost without OPEC and key members such as Venezuela. For how else have they been able to explain their underwhelming performance in the past few years in finding new production without the now time-honored excuse that the world's oil companies were being squeezed out by the NOCs controlled by states such as Hugo Chavez's Venezuela?

A brief word, too, on the eco-warriors, environmentalists, and green energy brigade who will all clamor to join COOL. Without the recent surge in oil prices, to currently over $75 a barrel, who would have given a serious thought to alternative energy? Who would have piled billions of dollars into infrastructure, automobile technology, wind, solar, ethanol, etc. and expected a serious return from it? The fact is that high oil prices have upped the ante, galvanized the debate and most importantly made alternatives viable financially as a competing source of oil.

Other members sure to join COOL must include the likes of non-OPEC (with OPEC around who will blame them for the price?), the IEA (if you can target the producers, who will stare hard at the waste of the consumers?) and perhaps even a few celebrities? I’m off to lobby Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore and maybe even Brad Pitt.

So roll up, roll up, my COOL society will be up and running imminently. I don’t expect you to ever admit it in public, but secretly we all have a soft, warm feeling for all OPEC, it's just that up until now you've all had nowhere to express your heart-felt feelings.

I'll be in Vienna for two days from Monday afternoon and will have a more in-depth look at events on the ground in my next blog. Until then read the above as tongue-in-cheek,but spare a thought for the issues behind the irreverence.