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EU, OPEC officials hold talks on energy policies

Officials from the European Union and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) held roundtable talks on Wednesday, seeking clarification of each other's energy policies.

During the one-day meeting, participants from both sides exchanged views on the energy outlook till 2030. They noted that, according to various reliable studies, there are enough conventional and non-conventional oil resources to meet demand. However, the roundtable meeting was mainly intended to serve as a platform for the EU and OPEC to be better informed of each other's energy policies. While the oil producers are seeking an explanation on how EU policies, such as a newly-set target to increase renewable energy use, will affect demand for oil and gas, the EU, one of the world's largest oil consumers, wanted more information from the 12- nation OPEC on future energy supplies.

Earlier this year, the EU member states agreed to set a binding target to promote the use of renewables as a way to diversify its energy supply. By 2020, twenty percent of the 27-nation bloc's energy consumption would come from renewable. The decision provoked concern of excessive oil supply from OPEC countries. Both the EU and OPEC officials welcomed an enhanced diversification of the energy mix, including renewables and biofuels. The sustainability of biofuel was discussed, in particular the potential impacts of the large-scale trade and use of biomass for energy purposes, in terms of land-use changes, competition with food supply and other biomass uses, biodiversity, and competition for water resources, the two parties said in a joint press release.

OPEC and some of its member countries made presentations about their capacity expansion objectives and market-stabilization measures. The EU, anxious to secure its energy supply, wanted to be in touch with OPEC's decision-making when the oil suppliers' group decides to reduce, maintain and increase producing capacity. The roundtable was part of the formal EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue, which was established in December 2004, to exchange views on energy issues of common interest, including oil market developments, and the potential this has for contributing to stability, transparency and predictability in the market, Wednesday's talks were in preparation for a ministerial meeting between the two sides on June 21 in Vienna. (