Climate plans will not reduce oil imports: EU


Brussels : The European Union (EU) will not reduce the amount of oil it imports over its ambitious plans to reduce and diversify energy consumption, a top official said Tuesday at a meeting with OPEC leaders.

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“In 2030, according to our forecasts, the EU will be importing more oil than we are importing today, even taking into account that all our climate-change policies will be in place,” EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said after a meeting with top EU and OPEC officials.

The union “expects that its consumption will increase”, even though it will produce more plant-based biofuels in the future, Slovenia’s Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak, current holder of the rotating presidency of EU member states, said.

At the fifth annual “EU-OPEC energy dialogue”, OPEC leaders “stressed the uncertainties related to the demand for its crude, stemming mainly from technology (and) alternative fuels as well as consuming countries’ policies,” a joint statement said.

But they said they welcomed the EU’s plans to fight climate change by using energy more efficiently and producing more power from renewable sources such as sun and wind power and plants.

“We are concerned about the current high oil prices, because these basically destroy demand. All those (EU measures) will lower demand, but I think it’s a good thing to lower the demand – we (will) just have more supply, and maybe lower prices in the market,” OPEC President Chakib Khelil said.

“The EU is doing a very good job and it should continue in this way because OPEC member countries would benefit greatly from the experiences of the EU in terms of energy efficiency, conservation (and) carbon-dioxide abatement,” he said.

The meeting held on a day in which OPEC oil prices broke through the $130-a-barrel mark for the third time this month. However, Khelil insisted that world oil supplies were, if anything, higher than demand.

The current price spike is due to factors such as the decline in the US dollar, the transfer of investment funds from US housing markets to other areas and geopolitical factors such as US threats against Iran because of its nuclear programme, he said.

At a summit in March 2007, EU leaders pledged to boost their use of renewable energy to 20 percent of total consumption and their use of plant-based biofuels to 10 percent of the total used by 2020, in order to combat climate change and reduce the bloc’s increasing reliance on imported energy sources.