DETROIT (AP) - As the world's appetite for energy grows, the challenge for all nations will be ensuring that supplies of oil and gas, and the infrastructure needed to transport these fuels, remain stable and secure, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Thursday.
Addressing industry and government experts at the two-day G-8 energy summit, Abraham also emphasized balancing the need for more supplies with the desire for a healthy environment.
With concerns about the security of energy supplies heightened by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, industry and government experts from around the world agreed to pursue a global approach to these issues.
"We need also to prepare for the possibility of oil supply disruptions," Abraham said.
"On this, of course, international cooperation is fundamental to success," he added.
Cooperation — whether in protecting energy supplies, planning for increasing energy demand as the world's population swells or developing new technologies to improve energy efficiency — was an overarching theme of the meeting.
By 2020, world oil consumption is projected to increase by 60 percent to roughly 120 million barrels per day, Abraham said.
In the United States, it's estimated that by 2020, oil consumption will increase by 33 percent, natural gas consumption by more than 50 percent and electricity demand by 45 percent. However, the infrastructure to handle the increased use doesn't exist, he said.
For example, to accommodate the projected increase in electricity demand, more than one power plant per week will have to be built, he said. Transmission lines also will need to be upgraded to alleviate bottlenecks in certain parts of the country.
Greg Stringham, vice president of markets and fiscal policy with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said it is key for nations to maintain backup supplies and delivery systems in case of emergency.
"In the critical places, you can look at what necessary levels of redundancy or alternate routes are available to be able to meet that demand in case of a ... disruption — be it either natural, from a storm coming through, or something that is man-made," he said.
Canada, which co-hosted the summit, is a major supplier of energy to the United States.
Abraham, the former U.S. senator from Michigan, said that "free trade and liberalized government policies for private investment will be essential to meet growing worldwide demand for energy."
The summit in Detroit is the first G-8 gathering to focus on energy since a Moscow meeting in 1998. Other countries participating are Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and France.
Abraham spoke several times about how the effect of new technologies and increased energy use must be weighed against environmental concerns. He said the Energy Department will host an International Conference on the Future of Energy Transportation Technologies in Detroit this fall.
The conference will allow international discussion of advanced transportation technologies that solve environmental problems, such as the development of hydrogen as a primary fuel for vehicles, Abraham said.
Gary Skulnik, a Greenpeace spokesman, said it's not enough to merely talk about cleaner vehicles.
"We need to show real commitment by investing resources now," Skulnik said.
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