Little immediate relief for hard-pressed consumers has come from OPEC’s emergency oil summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The organisation is insisting the current high price is due to market speculators and not its unwillingness, or inability, to pump more oil.
But it is being pressured, mainly by the West, to produce more to stave off the risk of inflation worldwide.
Host King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia said:
“There are several factors behind the unjustified and swift rise in oil prices, and they are speculators who play the market out of selfish interests, increased consumption in several developing nations, and extra taxes on oil in several consuming countries”.
Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to Jeddah with proposals he hoped could spur change.
“I propose that Britain and other oil consumers should open our markets to new investment from oil producers, including sovereign wealth funds, in all forms of energy, including renewables and nuclear, providing oil producers with a long-term future in non-oil energy,” he said.
Brown is under tremendous political pressure at home to be seen to be doing something. But protests remain active, and OPEC’s refusal to approve significant increases in production could lead to tension with Western consumers.