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Russian giants head for Rome for energy talks

Amid soaring oil prices, the World Energy Congress is taking place in Rome with industry representatives and government officials discussing rising energy supply and demand problems.

Russia is represented by 21 energy companies including Gazprom, Unified Energy Systems, Rosneft and Transneft.

The World Energy Council organises the event once every three years. It takes place in various countries around the world.

No serious decisions or resolutions are expected. This is more an opportunity to discuss issues currently in the spotlight.

One of the main topics will be energy security. With oil prices near $US 100 per barrel, Russia obviously plays an important role in providing Europe with energy and in securing its energy supplies.

“We are living in a period when the issue of energy security, normally just discussed at  high political levels, has become a concern to everyone. We need more understanding at the global level so we need to meet and to discuss the issue in different formats and different auditoriums. For us the forum is the platform where we can once again highlight Russia's role in  energy security,” said Viktor Khristenko, Minister of Industry and Energy and Head of the Russian Delegation.

“My own view is that much of the uncertainty about the price now is not due to a lack of supply but a lack of confidence in some regions that supply oil like Venezuela, Nigeria or Iran, for example. And it is that uncertainty that is causing the price to rise. So, places like Russia, which are more stable, have a much more important role to play,” said Robert Schock, Director of Studies for the World Energy Council.

The Head of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, in his opening speech said that energy security is one the main issues facing the world today.

“If I'm asked  what  the single most important issue for global security and development today is, what the single most important issue for the world in the 21st century is, what issue has the potential for serious problems if we do not treat it the right way is  – it is energy,” said Barroso.

Mr  Barroso also said that global energy demand may increase by as much as 50% by the year 2030. In some developing countries it may double by 2030. The required investments into the global energy system may reach as much as $US 20 trillion.

A roundtable was also held dealing specifically with Russia's being a reliable partner for Europe.  It was attended by, among others, the Russian Industry and Energy Minister, Viktor Khristenko, and the Head of Rosneft, Sergey Bogdanchikov.