Energy Chief Who Pushed To Slash Oil And Gas Investments Now Decries ‘Global Energy Crisis’

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Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) who has a history of criticizing oil and gas investments, expressed disappointment in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a group of allies led by Russia for cutting oil production during what he described as a “truly global energy crisis.”

Nearly a year and a half ago, the IEA recommended that no new oil or gas facilities be constructed worldwide as part of a proposal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Despite this, amid an ongoing energy crisis prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which Birol described as “truly global,” he expressed disappointment Tuesday in the decision by OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day, according to Reuters.

“(It is) especially risky as several economies around the world are on the brink of a recession, if that we are talking about the global recession,” said Birol, discussing the OPEC+ decision, according to Reuters. “I found this decision really unfortunate.”

Birol has previously warned against investing in fossil fuels in response to the energy crisis, citing the time it takes to build new oil and LNG processing facilities, according to The Guardian. However, he has also said that he hoped countries with the ability to export more fossil fuel-based energy would make a “positive contribution” to resolve the crisis, since short-term demands would be impossible to meet via alternative energy methods alone, Reuters reported.

Europe’s energy supplies have been put under additional pressure since sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline, first discovered in late September, rendered it unable to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe. The threat of Russia cutting access to this resource had already prompted the European Union (EU) to urge citizens to cut back on consumption in early September.

To help emerging nations secure sufficient oil, Birol tentatively endorsed a G7 plan that would allow such nations to purchase Russian oil at lower prices, but noted that details still needed to be finalized, Reuters reported. He noted that if Russia was able to sell 80%-90% of its oil supplies, it would help stabilize oil supplies without necessitating an additional tap of strategic oil reserves.

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