British PM to urge OPEC investment in renewables: report


Posted at Jun 21 2008 08:05 PM | Updated as of Jun 22 2008 04:05 AM

Agence France-Presse

LONDON - Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to push major oil producers to invest profits from spiraling crude prices into Western renewable energy projects, he said in comments published Saturday.

Brown flies to Saudi Arabia later for a major summit on how to tackle the unfolding energy crisis, sparked by crude prices that have rocketed to almost 140 US dollars per barrel in recent months.

But insisting he was not going to urge OPEC simply to increase supply, he set out a two-pronged plan to encourage investment in wind, tidal and nuclear power in an interview with The Guardian newspaper before his departure.

Under his "new deal", Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) would be urged to take major stakes in the more stable market of renewable energy.

In return, Britain and other Western countries would help improve the long-term supply of oil by being given greater chances to invest in oil fields and refineries in OPEC countries, he added.

"I am going to Saudi to see if we can get a new deal between oil producers and the consumers where oil producers will invest in countries like ours, and oil consumers like us with good companies, with good technology and skills can invest in the oil-producing countries," he was quoted as saying.

"Where we can make credible commitments and the world can see we will reduce our dependence on oil and we will get demand and supply back into balance."

Brown, whose government is under increasing pressure due to the rising cost of food, domestic energy and fuel, said the current situation was "the biggest of all three oil shocks" and was changing the debate about oil.

It was also "the downside of globalization", which was affecting world economies and pressuring resources, he said in the interview, conducted as he returned from a European Union summit in Brussels Friday.

"Over the next three years I think we will see large investments in Britain in solar, wind power, wave power, nuclear and in expansion of alternatives to oil. The world is going to have build 1,000 nuclear power stations," he added.

Brown briefed fellow EU leaders on his plan and pointed out that Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had already begun investing in renewable energy projects in Britain, The Guardian said.