Abdallah el-Badri is the man the West loves to hate. As secretary general of OPEC, he controls the world’s oil supply. He welcomed Metro for an exclusive interview at OPEC’s shiny new HQ.
Do you ever think about what the world might look like without oil?
When I was a child I saw a world without oil because we didn’t have oil at the time. So I know what it means. But oil is the heart of the world at this time. I really can’t imagine that the world could have a decent life without oil.
When will OPEC no longer be able to meet demand for oil?
OPEC has enough oil to satisfy the world for the foreseeable future. In our forecasts, we don’t see that we won’t be able to provide the world with enough oil. Proven reserves are around 1.3 trillion barrels. There’s also a lot of potential to be explored and discovered. New technology also means that we will be able increase the extraction rate.
Does OPEC prefer a higher oil price over economic recovery?
Who said $70-$80 per barrel is hampering the world economy? We are not saying we are happy with [the price]; what we are saying is that we are comfortable. Institutions and economists who are really following the recovery ... will not tell you that [the price of oil] is hindering the recovery.
In 1973, OPEC raised oil prices and brought the world to a standstill. Is OPEC as powerful today?
Back then, oil prices were controlled by oil companies. Today it’s a different game; oil prices are controlled by the market. And now we have a new commerce, the speculators and also the financial markets.
Does alternative energy pose a threat to OPEC?
We encourage other sources of energy. But ... fossil fuels will remain the predominant source of energy for the foreseeable future.
Should OPEC produce alternative energy?
OPEC countries get more sun than most other countries, and more wind, too. Nuclear is something we have to be very careful about ... . But solar and wind power, yes. Right now we don’t have money to subsidize new energy sources.
Would you consider switching OPEC’s Mercedes to Priuses?
Yes, when it’s efficient and commercial.