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EU, OPEC say secure oil demand key to spurring oil investment
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10:15, June 25, 2008

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The European Union (EU) and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed on Tuesday that secure future demand is key to spurring oil investment to guarantee supply.

The EU and OPEC "recognized the importance of secure future demand for crude and products in spurring timely investment both upstream and downstream, thus contributing to greater security of supply," said energy officials from both sides in a joint statement after a meeting here.

The fifth EU Energy Dialogue, attended by EU Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs and OPEC President Chakib Kheli and Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri, among others, took place in the aftermath of a global summit on oil prices in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jeddah Sunday.

The summit, which brought together the world's major oil producers and consumers, ended with a call for more investment and improved transparency in the oil industry.

During the dialogue, the EU confirmed its policy developments would not translate into a reduction in oil imports.

"In 2030, according to our forecasts, the EU will be importing more oil than we are importing today, even taking into account that all our climate change policies will be in place," Piebalgs said after the meeting.

The EU is currently promoting the use of renewable energy and biofuels in its ambitious plan to reduce oil dependence and diversify energy supply, which causes concern among oil producing countries about a dwindling demand.

Despite the EU's assurance, OPEC leaders "stressed the uncertainties related to the demand for its crude, stemming mainly from technology, alternative fuels as well as consuming countries policies."

But they welcomed the growing diversity in the energy mix, including renewables, saying the EU's move would help bring soaring prices down before demand gets destroyed.

"We are concerned about the current high oil prices, because these basically destroy demand. All those will lower demand, but I think it's a good thing to lower the demand," Khelil said.

"The EU is doing a very good job and it should continue in this way because OPEC member countries would benefit greatly from the experiences of the EU in terms of energy efficiency, conservation (and) carbon-dioxide abatement," he added.

However, OPEC leaders rebuffed an updated call from the EU to raise oil production, saying the markets are currently well supplied.

"OPEC representatives presented their analysis of the recent developments in the oil market, reiterating that it remains well supplied, with supply exceeding demand and with healthy commercial crude stocks," the joint statement said.

Earlier today, Khelil told reporters that OPEC has done its utmost to ensure supply, but the world oil prices will not come down due to other factors, notably speculation.

"OPEC has already done what OPEC can do and prices will not come down," Khelil said as he arrived for the meeting.

As the world oil prices were attempting to hit 140 U.S. dollars per barrel, a once unimaginable record level, oil producing countries have been under rising pressure from consuming countries, including the EU, to increase production.

Ahead of the Jeddah summit, Saudi Arabia, a leading member of OPEC and the world's top oil exporter, promised on Thursday to raise its oil output by 200,000 barrels per day.

But al-Badri said today that other OPEC countries were unwilling to follow.

"Other member countries do not want to increase their production because as they have said many times from our perspective we do not see any shortage in the market," he said.

Oil producing countries instead blamed the price hike on the U.S. sub-prime crisis and a weak U.S. dollar, which diverted large amount of speculative investments to the commodity markets.

"OPEC stressed the role of financial markets as well as the declining value of the dollar in driving the current crude oil price and volatility, in particular through increased speculative activity," the joint statement said.


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