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EU to ease OPEC fears of alternative fuels

An EU-OPEC meeting was set to start Thursday in Vienna at which the European Union was expected to try to ease fears by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on the rise of alternative energy sources in Europe. 

The 4th EU-OPEC Energy dialogue, established in 2004, will focus on OPEC's work on carbon-dioxide capture and storage, energy policy but also on the impact of financial markets on oil prices as well as improving market transparency and predictability. German Economics Minister Michael Glos, serving as president of the EU Energy Council at the high-level meeting, said that burning of fossil fuels must be restricted for climate reasons. He reassured OPEC biofuels would be „introduced as a supplement” to fossil fuels. „We do not want to restrict OPEC,” he told journalists at the outset of the meeting. OPEC warned earlier that in case of a long-term boom in biofuels it could cut down on investment in oil production, and that in turn a fuel shortage could be the result if biofuels ran into supply problems.

EU experts said ahead of the meeting that even if biofuels were increasingly used in Europe in the next years, the demand for oil would remain stable. Among the participants in the meeting are EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, Mohamed bin Dhaen AL Hamli, President of the OPEC conference, Abdalla Selem El-Badri, OPEC Secretary General and Michael Glos, German Minister of Economics. Around 40% of the EU's oil imports come from OPEC countries. After a period of sustained increase, prices for OPEC crude's fell slightly on Thursday to $67.78 per barrel, down 45 cents from Wednesday levels.

Prices have been hovering below the $70 barrier for a while. Analysts believe that if this barrier is breached prices can climb a lot higher, into the mid-80s range. Glos warned that current prices were „the upper level of what will be tolerable for consumer countries,” adding the OPEC had a shared interest in avoiding a global economic slowdown. El-Bardri indicated earlier this week that OPEC was not considering raising its output at the moment. One reason is that increased input would go into stockpiles, as there is not enough refining capacities, OPEC argued. (