Saudi Arabia proposes ‘energy for poor’ initiative (Third Lead, changing dateline)

June 22nd, 2008 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Jeddah, June 22 (IANS) Saudi Arabia has proposed a five-pronged approach to check the spiralling oil prices across the world, including an ‘energy for poor’ initiative. Welcoming delegates at the Jeddah energy meeting Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz announced the five-point proposal even as he said his country has increased production by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the past few months, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

“We were keen on preserving the interests of the entire world as we are keen on preserving our national interests, and for that policy we faced so many attacks and we accepted a lot of harm due to that,” he said.

“Starting from this policy, we have been allocating a great part of our income for the development assistance, and starting from the same policy we, in the last few months, increased our daily production of petroleum from nine million barrels to 9.7 million barrels and we are ready to meet any additional requirements in the future,” he added.

The Saudi ruler blamed a “group of elements” for what he called the quick and unjustified increase of oil prices in recent times.

“They include the frivolity of the speculators in the market for selfish interests, the increase of consumption in a number of rising economies, increasing taxes on petroleum in a number of consuming countries,” he said.

Stating that his country realised the importance of aiding poor countries in fighting price rise, King Abdullah proposed a five-point initiative to tackle the menace.

“Firstly, I call for launching the initiative of ‘energy for the poor’ and its aim is to enable the developing countries to confront the increasing cost of energy,” he said. The king called upon the World Bank to organise a meeting as soon as possible for the donor countries and regional and international financial institutions to discuss and activate this initiative.

“Secondly, I call upon the Ministerial Council of OPEC Fund for international development to meet and consider the approval of a parallel programme for the previous one with continual characteristic, and I propose an allocation of $1 billion for this programme,” he said.

As the third initiative, he announced Saudi Arabia’s readiness to contribute to financing the aforementioned two programmes within a framework to be agreed upon.

“Fourthly, I announce the allocation of $500 million for soft loans through the Saudi Fund for Development for financing projects which help the developing countries to obtain energy and finance development projects which they are in need,” the ruler of the world’s biggest oil producing country said.

As for the fifth initiative, he called for the formation of a working group of countries and organisations participating in the Jeddah meeting under the umbrella of the General Secretariat of the International Energy Forum.

“The working group shall follow up and implement recommendations to be issued by this conference in addition to monitoring developments in the oil market,” he said, while promising his country would support the working group with all human and material potentials.

The Saudi monarch appealed to the international community to rise to the level of responsibility and said cooperation should be the cornerstone of any effort.

The Jeddah meeting is taking place at the initiative of the Saudi Arabian government to discuss what it said was an unjustified rise in prices of petroleum products. Global oil prices have doubled in less than a year from $50 a barrel in August last year to a range between $135 and $150 now.

The meeting is being attended by representatives of 36 oil producing and consuming countries, including India, seven international organisations, and a number of global oil majors.

The OPEC, which meets over a third of the world’s oil requirement, is under pressure to increase output to ease the adverse impact of high prices on world economy.

The Indian delegation is being led by Finance Minister P.Chidambaram and Oil and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora.

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