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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The global issue of energy and its security will be discussed at an international conference in Israel for the first time this week to inaugurate the launch of Haifa University's Center for Advanced Energy Studies.
"There has been much talk in Israel about security issues, but almost no attention has been paid to the subject of energy security," said Dr. Brenda Sheffer, who will head the new research center.
Speaking at the conference on the "International Implications of Energy Transit" on Wednesday, Dr. Onn Winkler an economics expert at the newly established center will present his thesis on the future of oil prices to a distinguished international audience of politicians, energy experts and policy planners.
"Oil prices in the coming decade will gradually drop, but over the next few years they will still be high," said Winkler in his thesis. "We will no longer return to the halcyon days of 1999, when oil cost $10 a barrel. But we won't reach the hell of $70 a barrel, either."
Winkler stressed that there was no world oil shortage, as proven reserves of Saudi Arabia, for example, amount to 260 billion barrels.
According to Winkler's thesis, the big change in the oil price level from $22-$28 a barrel came about after the September 11 events in the US.
"For a long time, there was an unwritten agreement between the US and the Saudi royal family," Winkler remarked. "The Saudis promised - and kept to their word - to increase the rate of production every time there was a crisis in the oil market. In return, the Americans protected the Saudi regime, especially against its Iraqi and Iranian neighbors."
But Winkler asserted, after September 11 and the fact that 15 of the suicide plane hijackers were Saudi citizens, the "unwritten agreement" no longer could represent a safe option for the Americans and increased Iraqi oil production was seen as a solution to the energy crisis that began developing around the world.
"From the moment Saddam fell, they have not succeeded in stabilizing the Iraqi government or in bringing about any sharp increase in oil production that would have the effect of moderating prices," Winkler said, concluding that although the Saudis promised to step up oil production this was a process that takes time.
"In 10 years, prices will come down. But over the next few years, they will still be high," he reiterated.
Among the speakers at the conference will be the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili; the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Karim Massimov; Germany's Minister of Environment and Atomic Energy, Sigmar Gabriel; US Ambassador Richard Jones and Israeli Minister of Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
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