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Ministers from major oil-producing and -consuming economies in Asia and the Middle East called for more investments in the energy sector Sunday while limiting “speculative” money to avoid extreme volatility in oil prices.

Representatives from Japan, China, India, Iraq and Saudi Arabia confirmed that demand for energy will grow in most of the region in the medium and longer terms, and investments in the sector will be “indispensable” to balance demand and supply in the future, the statement said.

“Participants affirmed that adequate and continuous investment throughout the energy value chain is essential as a means to balancing supply and demand in the future,” said the chair’s summary released after the Third Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable held in Tokyo.

The ministers also agreed on the importance of sharing demand and supply projections to help stabilize prices, it added.

The 21 nations, which account for 40 percent of the global oil output and 30 percent of consumption, urged the sharing of a demand-supply projection as part of efforts to ensure stability in the market. They had gathered for the Third Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable held in Tokyo.

The meeting came as key crude oil prices, which surged to around $147 per barrel last summer, currently trade at around $50 a barrel, given weaker demand amid the worst global economic downturn since World War II.

Japan warned that if a future recovery of the world economy triggers high demand, it might cause a sudden energy “supply crunch.”

“The (global) economy will sooner or later return to a track of expansion and focus will shift to the issue of energy,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai said after the conference. “It’s not desirable that producers and consumers remain in conflict over oil prices at that stage.”

Japan urged adequate and continuous investments in the energy sector to boost output capacity.

Nations represented at the ministerial conference included China, India, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Qatar holds the chair jointly with Japan.

“Ongoing globalization means that ideas, finances and energy flow from one country to another,” said Qatari Energy and Industry Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah. “In this context, isolated actions are no longer likely to be the only or the most effective action.”

The participants also included the International Energy Agency and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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