Korea wants int’l efforts on oil prices

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Korea wants int’l efforts on oil prices

Korea’s finance minister has called for greater international cooperation to control the surging price of crude oil, which can weigh down economic growth, the government said yesterday.

“The minister met with counterparts from China, India, Mexico and Canada, as well as the head of the World Bank, and exchanged views on what measures can be taken to deal with crude prices,” the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said in a press release in Seoul.

Bahk Jae-wan is in Washington to take part in a two-day Group of 20 finance ministers’ meeting.

The minister said crude derivatives and other speculative funds were artificially contributing to the current spike in fuel prices, the ministry reported.

Benchmark crudes such as Dubai, Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) have all gone up in recent months.

The average price for a barrel of Dubai oil hit $122.5 last month from $106 for the whole of last year. Numbers for Brent and WTI also reached $124.9 and $106.3 in March, respectively, from $111.1 and $95.1 tallied for 2011.

“The minister called for an understanding to be reached on more regulatory control and oversight on derivatives, and to prepare for increased volatility in the crude market as the global community steps up its pressure on Iran over its nuclear program,” the ministry said.

Increased geopolitical risks can negatively impact countries such as Korea that rely heavily on energy imports to meet industrial and consumer demand.

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