The “war of words” between the two major international energy organizations is intensifying.
OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais on Monday accused the International Energy Agency (IEA) of slandering the oil and gas industry. This is the latest climate policy conflict between the two major organizations.
Al Ghais refers to a report released by the IEA last Thursday that said the fossil fuel industry is facing a “critical moment” and producers must choose between intensifying the climate crisis or switching to clean energy.
Al Ghais said in a statement:
“This presents us with an extremely narrow framework of challenges, perhaps to conveniently downplay issues such as energy security, energy access, and energy affordability. It also unfairly accuses the industry of being behind the climate crisis.”
In recent years, OPEC and the IEA have repeatedly clashed over issues such as long-term oil demand prospects and new hydrocarbon supply investments, and there have been many “wars of words.”
The two major organizations are likely to face each other tit-for-tat at the COP28 UN climate summit hosted by the UAE, a major OPEC producer, this weekend. Al Ghais said OPEC will attend the climate talks.
The IEA expects global demand for fossil fuels to peak in 2030 as more electric vehicles hit the road. OPEC described such predictions as “dangerous,” saying they are often accompanied by calls to stop new oil and gas investments and will jeopardize energy security.
In last Thursday's report, the IEA also criticized carbon capture technology, with a statement published on its website saying:
“The industry needs to be truly committed to helping the world meet its energy needs and climate goals, which means abandoning the illusion that large amounts of carbon capture are the solution.”
The UAE is the second Arab country after Egypt to host this climate summit. The UAE joins other Gulf energy producers in calling for what they see as a more realistic energy transition. While the industry decarbonizes, fossil fuels will continue to play a role in securing energy supply.
Al Ghais said it is regrettable that the IEA called technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS) a “illusion” because they are seen as part of the solution in the report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He said:
“For those who want to see the truth, it's pretty simple and clear: the energy challenge facing us is huge and complex, and it cannot be limited to a binary issue.
As early as last year, OPEC+ decided to stop using IEA data when evaluating the state of the oil market.