G7 pledges to support energy investments amid oil downturn


TOKYO, Japan (Bloomberg) -- The Group of Seven countries will promote investing in energy projects through the oil price crash to ensure a steady stream of supply, ministers from the member countries said Monday.

The nations will also encourage financial institutions to invest in energy projects and infrastructure, according to a statement provided by the Japanese government. Investments in oil and gas production are forecast to fall 18% this year after dropping 24% in 2015, Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in a presentation during the ministers’ meeting that started Sunday in Kitakyushu, Japan.

“We have an obligation to look at the longer term,” James Carr, Canada’s natural resources minister, said Monday. “We all are feeling pressures at the moment because of low commodity prices. But so are we preparing for 15, 20 and 50 years from now. And there is a consensus among my colleagues that that is a very important focus.’’

The ministers also agreed to support changes to the liquefied natural gas industry -- including long-term contracts with looser destination restrictions and prices linked to spot deals rather than oil -- to foster a more robust and transparent market. The countries will also promote the development of natural gas infrastructure, such as pipelines and storage tanks. The IEA will begin publishing a regular report on the natural gas market, according to the statement, without providing further details.

The group, which includes Japan, the U.S. and Germany, said it would support Ukraine with energy supplies and develop policies to enhance cyber-security for electricity networks. The nations will also promote investment in energy efficiency and deployment of green-energy technology.

“There is concern among member nations about how to secure a stable power supply and have a minimal impact on the environment,” said Shinichi Kihara, director of the international affairs division at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. However, there was a greater focus on security of supply than whether certain fuels are good or bad for the environment, he said.

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