Rome: International energy experts, industry representatives and government officials have gathered in Rome as soaring oil prices added urgency to discussions about rising energy demand and supply problems.
The World Energy Congress in the Italian capital runs through Thursday, drawing chief executives, researchers and government officials from dozens of countries, including the United States, Russia, China and Brazil.
With oil prices surging near$100 per barrel, the roughly 4,000 delegates are expected to focus on improving cooperation between importers and exporters, as well as on sustainable energy and ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Oil prices have been rising amid concerns about supplies, the weak U.S. dollar and the apparent reluctance of producing countries to pump more crude into the market. Though some analysts blame market speculation for the current surge, others believe booming demand from developing countries like China and India will keep prices at historically elevated levels.
Energy tensions also rose in recent years when Europe saw energy supplies disrupted by disputes between Russia, a major energy exporter, and countries through which energy supplies pass on their way to Germany, Poland and elsewhere.
While the Rome forum formally opened Sunday evening, the main discussions were scheduled to begin on Monday with a keynote address by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Ministry officials from Qatar, China, Algeria, Russia and the United States, as well as World Trade Organization director-general Pascal Lamy were expected to attend the congress.
Top industry chiefs listed among the speakers include Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Abdallah Jum’ah, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco.
The congress will feature a panel on the future of transportation, tackling mobility issues ranging from hybrid and unconventional engines to growing air traffic driven by rise of low-cost airlines.
On Thursday, talks on climate change will be led by Rajendra Pachauri, who leads the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize along with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
The World Energy Council, a non-governmental, nonaligned organization with representatives from more than 90 countries, hosts the congress every three years.