Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr. A. Saj U. Mendis, called on Minister of Oil and Energy Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa to broach and to discuss avenues of closer cooperation and collaboration in the sphere of oil and petroleum between the two countries. The Minister of Oil, particularly, in Gulf countries such as in Bahrain is considered as an extremely critical and seminal Ministry and Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa has specialised in the oil and petroleum sector from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals of Saudi Arabia, University of Cambridge, Imperial College of London and DePaul University of the US.
The Minister has expansive experience and exposure in Bahrain, the region and in the world in the sphere of oil, energy and petroleum. Minister of Oil, Mohamed bin Khalifa, is also the Chairman of the largest corporate in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is the Bahrain Petroleum Company known as BAPCO and the National Oil and Gas Authority known as NOGA. The oil and petroleum production is one of the largest components of the GDP of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the rapid reduction of the price of oil, in the international market, has reduced the income from oil and petroleum, according to Minister of Oil.
He further stated that the diminishing prices of oil would not necessarily stimulate and aggrandize the economies of countries, which are importing oil and petroleum. Ambassador Dr. Mendis stated that Sri Lanka expends almost 1/3 of the import bill on oil and petroleum products.
The global production of oil is approximately 96 million barrels of oil per day (bpd). The 14-member OPEC produces aproximately 40 million bpd. The largest producer is the neighbouring country of Bahrain, which is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia produces over 10 million bpd followed by the Russian Federation and the US. Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Ambassador Dr. Mendis both agreed that proactive cooperation and collaboration between oil producing/exporting countries and oil importing countries, such as Sri Lanka, are imperative and vital at this juncture in order to have healthy global economic growth.
Both the Minister and Ambassador agreed that the last World Economic Forum in Davos in Switzerland was overwhelmed by the diminishing prices of oil and the impingment on the global economy. Ambassador Dr. Mendis requested more cooperation, particularly, in the context of sharing of technical expertise and skilled employment opportunities be extended to Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Dr. Mendis and Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa discussed, in detail, of alternative energy sources which are being explored and developed not only by many countries but also by a number of large corporates. The Minister also stated that any instability, particularly in this region, or any other strategic region could make a negative impact on the price of oil. In other words, the price of oil could rise to over $ 80 to $ 100, thus slowing down the global economic growth. Currently, the oil trades around $ 47 and the optimal price of oil to maximise global economic growth would be around $ 55 to 60. Both the Minister and the Ambassador broached of the impact of astronomically high oil prices which were prevailing a decade ago. In July of 2008, the price of oil reached an all time high of $ 147, which in turn, contributed to a global economic and financial crisis.
On a separate note, the Minister stated that many of the skilled and professional Sri Lankan expatriates in the Kingdom of Bahrain are doing very well and suggested that Sri Lanka to train more Sri Lankan nationals in technical sectors such as oil, gas, mining, petroleum and engineering, among others. He also added that most of the large and noted companies focused in engineering and technology prefer to recruit qualified Sri Lankan nationals, primarily, due to their technical know-how and competency.