OPEC, IEA chiefs to speak at IHS CERAWeek in Houston

Key figureheads of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency will speak in Houston in March at IHS CERAWeek, one of the energy industry’s largest annual conferences.

At the conference, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, a Nigerian energy official who took office in August, will hold a “special dialogue” alongside IEA executive director Fatih Birol about the future of the oil market, IHS Markit said on Wednesday.

“Their unique positions during a time of turbulence in energy markets enables them to bring deep understanding to the dynamics that are shaping the energy future,” said Daniel Yergin, energy journalist and vice chairman of IHS Markit.

OPEC is a collection of some of the world’s largest oil-producing and exporting countries that meet a few times a year to discuss the cartel’s oil production and how it could be used to keep crude prices artificially elevated. Its de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, typically produces more than 10 million barrels a day, and recently led the group to promise oil production cuts in an effort to shore up depressed oil prices.

The IEA is a Paris-based research group that advises 29 oil-importing nations, including the United States, and its words sometimes move markets, as well. Its bullish monthly report last week helped propel oil prices upward for a trading session. It had said it believes OPEC began cutting oil production in December, and oil demand was rising as output fell late last year.

Perhaps the most anticipated speaker at this year’s IHS energy conference will be Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, who replaced the kingdom’s legendary oil market whisperer Ali Al-Naimi last year. Naimi spoke at IHS CERAWeek last February, and predicted OPEC wouldn’t cut oil production, in part because of the lack of trust among the exporting countries. Oil prices fell that day.