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Ministers call for end to oil dependence

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Delegates from the world’s richest nations discussed an end to dependence on unreliable and expensive oil imports on Tuesday, with oil prices said to prove a threat to the global economy. The USA, Europe, Japan and China were represented at the meeting of the 26-nation International Energy Agency, part of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development.

The head of the IEA, Claude Mandil, said the high price of oil, gas and coal was hurting the economy, particularly in the less developed countries, and this was a problem that was not affordable in the long term. The OECD’s Donald Johnston said oil prices had, however, not influenced the economy at large and “certainly not in terms of inflation”.

High energy costs are generally seen as responsible for a slowdown in the European economy, which has occurred at the same time that the USA has grown at its slowest rate in two years. The USA did, nevertheless, suggest that high oil prices could exist for years to come.

The US energy secretary, Sam Bodman, said: “Energy markets as exemplified by current oil prices are really a global problem that was many years in the making and undoubtedly many years in the solving.”

Oil is around two thirds more expensive than at the time of the last IEA ministerial meeting in Paris two years ago. The agency said $16tr needed to be invested over the next 25 years to ensure supplies but that investment does not appear to be forthcoming.

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