EC WANTS OPEC TO GRANT UPSTREAM OPPORTUNITIES

EC WANTS OPEC TO GRANT UPSTREAM OPPORTUNITIES

The European Community wants greater involvement by European oil companies in exploration and production in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Antonio Cardoso E Cunha, European energy commissioner, was to broach the subject this past weekend in Algeria with Sadek Boussena, OPEC president and Algerian oil minister.Mr. Cardoso argues that the EC's need for secure oil supplies and OPEC's need for secure markets and foreign investment means there has to be increased opportunities for the European oil industry.

"The EC cannot enter long-term contractual arrangements to guarantee supply. We believe in market mechanisms. To ensure supply EC firms should be allowed greater upstream access," commented a European Commission official.

Earlier this year Subroto, OPEC secretary-general, said that foreign

investments of at least $60 billion over the next five years were needed in OPEC countries if a supply crunch was to be avoided.

The two men were to discuss the need for improved EC access to Algeria's natural gas reserves, as well as a planned gas pipeline from Algeria via Morocco to Spain.

The EC is keen to ensure that if the project goes ahead, the pipeline would be connected to the Portuguese and French gas grids.

Financing for the project has yet to be settled.