OPEC summit to back fight against climate change
Riyadh, Nov 18: OPEC will back the fight against global warming and affirm its commitment to stable oil prices when its heads of state meeting ends today, but only Saudi Arabia has so far pledged cash for climate change research.
Saudi King Abdullah said yesterday the world's top oil exporter would give 300 million for environmental research, but other leaders have yet to make similar promises.
''We are not committing anything. We don't know what the proposal is,'' Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil said. ''As far as I am aware, nobody else has committed anything either.'' OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said this week OPEC would be willing to play its part in developing carbon capture and storage technology to help reduce emissions.
According to a draft final communique read over the telephone by an OPEC delegate, the group will say it ''shares the international community's concern that climate change is a long-term challenge'' and seek ''stability of global energy markets'' but will make no mention of any environmental fund.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said yesterday he expected the summit to affirm commitment to ''stable and competitive'' oil prices.
He warned that crude oil prices, already close to 100 dollars per barrel, could double on global markets if the United States attacks his ally Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.
''If the United States is crazy enough to attack Iran or commit aggression against Venezuela ... oil would not be 100 dollars but 200 dollars,'' Chavez told heads of state including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Fears the United States or its ally Israel could attack Iran, which Washington says is covertly seeking to develop atomic weapons, have helped drive world oil prices to record levels. Tehran denies the charge.
No Oil Supply Decisions
Soaring prices have prompted calls by consumer nations for the exporter group to provide the market with more crude, but OPEC oil ministers said this week any decision on raising output will be left to a meeting in Abu Dhabi on December 5.
Iran and Venezuela are seen as price hawks, while Riyadh has traditionally accommodated Western calls to curb prices.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa told the conference today he favoured pricing oil in a currency stronger than the dollar.
The US currency's drop in the value against other major currencies has helped fuel oil's rally to 98.62 dollars last week but has also reduced the purchasing power of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia steered the group towards rebuffing an attempt by Iran and Venezuela to highlight concern over dollar weakness in the summit communique.
Analysts say Saudi King Abdullah, a close US ally and, as OPEC's ''swing producer'', veteran guarantor of crude to the United States, is keen to keep populists Chavez and Ahmadinejad from grabbing the summit limelight with anti-US rhetoric.
The octogenarian leader sat stony-faced throughout Chavez's 25-minute speech yesterday, and was heard joking to the Venezuelan president afterwards: ''You went on a bit!'' Addressing leaders assembled in an opulent hall with massive crystal chandeliers and toilet accessories fitted in gold leaf, self-styled socialist revolutionary Chavez said OPEC ''must stand up and act as a vanguard against poverty in the world.
''OPEC should be a more active geopolitical agent and demand more respect for our countries ... and ask powerful nations to stop threatening OPEC,'' he said.
Ahmadinejad said he would give his views at the summit's close.
Saudi Arabia this month proposed setting up a consortium to provide Iran with enriched uranium for peaceful purposes in an effort to diffuse the tension between Washington and Tehran.
Iran said it will not halt its own enrichment programme.
Worried by a resurgent Iran with potential nuclear capability, Gulf Arab countries, including OPEC producers Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have said they will start a nuclear energy programme of their own.