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U.S. to avoid global energy meeting in Moscow

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials will not attend an energy forum being held in Moscow next week that is perhaps the largest regular meeting of global energy ministers, government sources said on Monday.

Nobody from either the departments of State or Energy will attend the May 15-16 biennial International Energy Forum, or IEF, the sources said.

The IEF is headquartered in Riyadh and was set up after the 1990-91 Gulf War when oil prices spiked. The last biennial meeting was held in Kuwait, at which U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman spoke.

The sources declined to say whether U.S. officials were avoiding the forum because of Washington's opposition to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

The White House has discouraged business executives from attending another event in Russia, called the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which runs May 22-24.

Last week White House spokesman Jay Carney said officials made it clear to U.S. business leaders that attending the St. Petersburg meeting would not be appropriate given "flagrant violations of a sovereign nation's territorial integrity.

Next week's energy meeting in Moscow will include a session on unconventional oil and natural gas. The United States has led the world in developing unconventional shale oil and gas by using advanced techniques such as hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling.

More than 80 countries are members of the IEF, accounting for about 90 percent of the world's oil and natural gas supply and demand. Large countries including China, India and Brazil are members of IEF. Ukraine is not a member.

Energy ministers at next week's meeting are also set to discuss ways to make information about global and gas supply and demand more transparent, knowledge thought to be an important stabilizing factor in markets.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Tom Brown)

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