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International Energy Forum Ministerial

April 24, 2006 - 10:27am

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Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Bodman

Thank you. And let me take this opportunity to thank our hosts for their hospitality, as well as their efforts in arranging this meeting of the International Energy Forum. Let me also thank my fellow panelists and the panel Chair Minister Naimi, who I look forward to seeing again in Washington next week.

These are challenging times in the energy world--demand and supply are roughly in balance, spare capacity is very slim, and continued strong economic growth around the world is fueling increasing demand.

I believe that we can meet the challenge if both consumers and producers act responsibly; if we all implement policies that encourage stability, both in the near and long term; and if we continue to coordinate and communicate with one another and share information that will help each of us plan and make informed decisions.

As responsible market participants, we must first recognize that our words and our actions are being highly scrutinized and can have unintended consequences in times such as these when markets are proving to be particularly volatile. We should all be forthright and clear as we discuss our actions and intentions - and this too involves maintaining open lines of communication not only with the markets, but with each other and with leaders in the private sector. Greater transparency with each other and with the markets is necessary to avert surprises, instill confidence, and ultimately soothe markets. Another responsibility we share is enhancing the physical security of our energy infrastructure, and working together to mitigate the effects of supply disruptions, such as establishing emergency reserves. As we've seen over the past year, unplanned events, such as hurricanes in the United States or unrest in individual countries, can impact markets and prices around the globe.

As we all look to address our individual and collective energy challenges, it is important that we each enact policies that foster stability in the markets. We must continue to work together to remove barriers to energy investment and trade and ensure open, free, and equitable access to global markets. It is our belief that removing barriers to a transparent - and unfettered - world oil market is the best foundation for global energy security, and we believe that producers and consumers alike would be best served by leaving it to the free market to decide issues of supply, demand, and price.

As governments we must ensure that our policies inspire the confidence needed by the private sector to make sound investment decisions. In many countries, the private sector is playing an indispensable role in developing new reserves and new infrastructure that will help keep energy markets well-supplied and stable into the future. As I know from my own experience in the private sector, attracting the significant capital required for energy projects requires a respect for intellectual property rights, protection for the sanctity of contracts, transparency, and the establishment of a level playing field where laws and regulations are clear, and consistently applied.

As numerous forecasts have shown, economic expansion around the globe and particularly in the developing world will continue to drive the earth's expanding appetite for energy. In order to maintain this healthy rate of economic growth, we know that abundant supplies of energy will be needed, and most certainly, significant supplies of petroleum and natural gas. Therefore to ensure the reliability of additional supplies, we must develop new reserves and expand and modernize our energy facilities. In the United States, there are plans to expand refining capacity by our private sector, and our administration continues to promote environmentally responsible domestic exploration for oil and natural gas.

And, we also believe that it is in the interest of both consumers and producers if we all diversify our energy portfolios. As many of you may know, President Bush this year announced a major new initiative, the Advanced Energy Initiative, to invest in new technologies that we believe can change the way we power our homes, our businesses and our automobiles. By developing new energy technologies, we should be able to take pressure off markets, enhance the sustainability of precious natural resources and keep energy prices stable over time. And while we can be sure that the world will still have a great need for oil and gas, developing alternatives and renewable sources now is in everyone's long term interest.

Lastly, as meetings like this demonstrate, there is a great need for free flowing information between consumers and producers. This sharing of information is the first and, perhaps the most important step towards cooperation.

One of the great contributions of the International Energy Forum to foster critical coordination among nations has been its support for the Joint Oil Data Initiative, or JODI. We all can agree that better data can lead to a more transparent, better functioning oil market. I hope that all producers and consumers will make it a priority ensure JODI's success. Its success is our success.

I will close by saying that I hope as the leading energy policy makers representing the largest consuming and producing nations, that we will use our leadership roles wisely, speak openly, frankly and most importantly, constructively.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention and I hope we can continue to strengthen our relationships, and promote our mutual energy security goals.

Location: Doha, Qatar

Media contact(s): Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940

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