• Kyodo News


Japan will press for regulating speculative money in oil futures when energy ministers from the Group of Eight major nations gather in Rome for a two-day meeting Sunday, government officials said.

The Rome energy conference is set to discuss issues ranging from stability in oil markets to cooperation in promoting energy-efficient technologies, but Japan’s focus is on ensuring price stability in oil futures.

Tokyo’s proposal is expected to face opposition from countries that want to avoid excessive control of the markets, the officials said.

The ministers from the G8, also including Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States, will be joined by counterparts from some emerging economies, including China and India, as well as oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia in most of their sessions.

Ministers and officials from a total of 22 countries will try to reach a consensus on energy strategies in response to global climate change, as well as on investment to maintain oil production capacity even amid the worldwide financial turmoil and economic downturn.

They will also discuss establishing a working group within the G8 framework to fight “energy poverty” in Africa, the Japanese government said.

Oil price volatility will be a dominant issue during the meeting.

Crude oil prices are hovering around $60 dollars per barrel, after surging to a record high of $147 last summer and falling to around $30 amid the financial turmoil.

Japan and some other Asian countries have agreed on the need to regulate speculative money in the oil futures market and limit positions held by short-term investors like hedge funds.

In April, 20 oil producing and importing countries from Asia and the Middle East gathered in Tokyo, stressing the importance of taking further harmonized actions.

Japan, which hosted the energy ministers’ meeting last year when it held the G8 presidency, briefed its G8 colleagues on the results of the April meeting at working-level talks ahead of the Rome conference.

“Last year, we failed to deliver a strong message on financial regulation due to opposition especially from the United States and Britain,” a Japanese official said. “This time is our second attempt. But we don’t know whether we could get something included in a document to be issued after the meeting.”

Italy, the host of the upcoming meeting, is planning to issue a joint statement.

The G8 ministers are likely to express concern that oil producers have cut investment to maintain output capacity.

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