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US Energy Chief Says High Oil Prices Could Wreck Economies of Many Countries


U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman is warning that high oil prices can wreck economies, especially in the developing world. Secretary Bodman says they can also stifle business growth and hurt efforts to improve health care for the poor. Bodman made his remarks during a speech in Washington.

In remarks before the annual conference of the Middle East Institute, Secretary Bodman says worldwide demand for energy is expected to skyrocket over the next quarter-century.

"The Energy Information Administration estimates that by 2030 global energy consumption will grow by over 70 percent. The strongest growth is expected in developing economies in Asia, including China and India, with growth expected to triple in that region over the next 25 years," he said.

Secretary Bodman says while there is a high level of concern about the impact of energy prices on American families and businesses, the impact in the developing world can be devastating.

"It is not an understatement to say that high oil prices can literally wreck economies. They can restrict development in a way that stifles business growth and, more notably, inhibits improvements in the health and well-being of so many around the world."

The secretary of energy is urging oil-producing countries not to cut production in an attempt to boost prices.

"In the very short term, right now, we certainly must stop doing the things that we know will not help. For example, we know that purposeful market distortions, such as rationing supply, cutting production, or creating price floors or ceilings, do not work. I can't stress this enough, the global oil market must be allowed to function in a predictable and a transparent way."

Bodman did not mention OPEC by name in his speech, but the international oil cartel voted last month to cut output by one point two million barrels a day in an effort to counter falling oil prices.

The energy secretary says governments around the world must fund more research into alternate energy sources, such as ethanol, solar and wind.

He also urged nations to educate more scientists and engineers to work on making such alternatives practical for consumers to use.