Venezuela's Chavez asserts OPEC's continued importance

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told a closed gathering in Caracas Tuesday that, contrary to the views of many, OPEC 'is very much alive and well.' He said all energy issues�including matters such as the impact of technology, the environment, and the energy model that sustains the world economy�should be the subject of extensive brainstorming by OPEC members.


CARACAS�Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said here Tuesday that, contrary to the views of many, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries "is very much alive and well."

Opening a gathering of international delegates titled, "New world trends and the future of petroleum and energy," he recalled that, about 3 years ago, a group of oil experts had suggested that low crude oil prices would last for some time, possibly 20 years.

"They had not taken into account that OPEC was not dead. They thought that they had liquidated OPEC," said Chavez, noting that former US President Ronald Reagan had once said that "OPEC would be brought to its knees."

"However, OPEC is alive and kicking. It is standing up and walking, thinking and acting," said Chavez.

Commenting on the current level of world oil prices, he suggested that the price of oil today may not be too high. "Everything is relative," he said, adding, "There are technical studies that show $30 today is equivalent to $15, 20-40 years ago, or maybe even less."

The Venezuelan leader also indicated that oil producers should look at how much benefit the governments of consumer countries received from every barrel of oil they purchase at $25-28/bbl in order to decide whether prices are too high.

In opening the closed-door seminar, he underlined the need to take a new look at the world's "energy model."

The 3-day seminar, which is being attended by several energy-related experts from around the world, forms part of a series of events hosted by Venezuela in preparation for the second OPEC heads of state summit, to be held in Caracas Sept. 28-30.

Chavez said all energy issues�including matters such as the impact of technology, the environment, and the energy model that sustains the world economy�should be the subject of extensive brainstorming.

Other speakers here included Venezuelan Energy And Mines Minister Al�odr�ez Araque, who is also OPEC conference president, and Deputy Foreign Minister Jorge Valero, who is the head of the presidential organizing committee for the OPEC summit.

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