June 18, 2008

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Says He’Ll Attend Saudi Oil Meeting


OTTAWA - Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn says he will represent Canada at a meeting of oil producing and oil consuming countries organized by Saudi Arabia in response to record-high fuel prices.

The meeting will be held in Jeddah on Sunday. Lunn would not say what Canada's goal at the meeting will be, but said the government "has concerns about where the price of oil is going."

He added that Canada needs to be at the meeting because the country holds 14 to 15 per cent of the world's oil reserves.

But the price of oil is ultimately controlled by markets, Lunn said.

"We have jurisdictions in Canada which have regulations on gasoline prices and all of those jurisdictions, on average, they pay more than those which are not regulated."

Reports that Nigerian oil workers were about to strike caused the price of crude to rebound Wednesday to $136.68, recouping losses after hitting a record high of $139.89 on Monday.

Finance ministers at a Group of Eight meeting over the weekend cited high oil prices as a major risk for the world economy and urged more investment and production in the sector.

The finance ministers said speculation may be contributing to high prices but a bigger factor was growing demand from emerging economies such as China.

And Wednesday, U.S. President George W. Bush urged Congress to lift a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling on the outer continental shelf - part of a four-point plan that he said would increase domestic energy production over the long term.

Bush also proposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, lifting restrictions on oil shale production in the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and easing the regulatory process to expand oil refining capacity.

Senior Democrats accused the president of political posturing.