MADRID (AFP) – A week after failing to deflate record oil prices at a summit in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude producers and consumers will get another chance to tackle the problem at a meeting this week.
More than 3,000 delegates, including leading corporate and political figures, are to meet at the 19th World Petroleum Congress (WPC) in Madrid, which runs from Monday to Thursday after an official opening reception on Sunday.
“It’s the Olympics of the oil and gas industry,” director of the WPC, Pierce Riemer, told a press conference last week.
The gathering follows a surge in oil prices Friday that took both New York light sweet crude and Brent North Sea crude to record levels beyond 142 dollars a barrel.
The president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the head of the International Energy Agency and ministers from Nigeria, Russia, Venezuela, India, France and the Netherlands are expected to be present.
They are to be joined by the bosses of major international oil groups ExxonMobil of the United States, CNOOC of China, Britain’s BP and Shell, Rosneft of Russia and Total of France.
Saudi Arabia convened a hastily arranged meeting of consumers and producers in Jeddah last weekend to tackle the problem of record oil prices, which are forecast by OPEC’s president to touch 150-170 in the coming months.
Most experts agreed afterwards that the only concrete result was Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would increase daily production by more than 200,000 barrels to 9.7 million — and that it could significantly step this up if necessary.
The gathering pitted consumer nations, which are calling for an increase in production, against producers.
Most OPEC members remain firmly against any increase in their production and blame speculators and the fall in the dollar for the remarkable run up in prices, which have doubled in the last 12 months.
Jorge Segrelles, the head of the organising committee of the WPC, says the meeting is intended to be “a forum for actively finding solutions.”
Given the differences in assessment of the situation between consumer and producer countries, the head of energy at consultancy Capgemini, Colette Lewiner, sees little chance of an agreement.
“There might be declarations of intent, but there will not be a consensus in the short term,” she said.
The main event, which will take place in Madrid’s Ifema conference centre, also faces competition from a rival meeting of environmentalists called to promote alternatives to crude oil as an energy source.