Canada urges oil market transparency in Jeddah

Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:52pm EDT
 
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada's energy minister said on Sunday he pushed at an emergency meeting of oil producing and consuming countries for more transparency in global oil markets to allow supply and demand to be the biggest influences on prices.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Canada, the top energy supplier to the United States, supports the call from G8 finance ministers for investigations into the role of speculation in the surge of oil prices to near $140 a barrel.

"We will continue to push hard to ensure that the fundamentals are there for a predictable, stable market, which would actually result in a less volatile price of gasoline," Lunn told reporters in a conference call following the meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

He resisted any notion of regulating domestic fuel prices, arguing that consumers eventually pay more than in an unregulated market.

With its oil sands, Canada's reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's conventional resources in size. But unlike some OPEC countries, it has no spare capacity to tap in the short term to help cool runaway prices.

None of the delegates at the meeting was under the belief that a quick fix to the crisis was at hand, Lunn said.

"It was recognized that there is an adequate supply of oil reserves that remain for decades to come, but we do need to make strategic investments in development of some of these reserves as well as refining capacity," he said.

There was consensus that efforts to boost oil supplies should be matched with investments in environmental technology, something Ottawa is already doing in the area of carbon capture and storage, he said.

Lunn pointed out Canada has an important role in the dialogue as one of just a handful of countries increasing oil output. Industry forecasts show overall production nearly doubling to 4.5 million barrels a day by 2020, largely due to multibillion-dollar oil sands investments.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

 
<p>Canada's Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn speaks to journalists after testifying before the Commons natural resources committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 16, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>