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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 13:43 GMT
Energy prices 'threaten growth'
Central European gas hub in Baumgarten near the Austrian-Slovakian border
Many countries in Europe depend on Russia for gas supplies
Finance ministers from the world's leading industrialised countries have warned volatile energy prices threaten world economic growth in 2006.

But officials from the Group of Eight (G8) nations said they still believed that growth would be good this year, in a statement issued after talks.

Finance chiefs have been meeting in Moscow this weekend with energy security at the top of their agenda.

Russia has taken the helm of G8 with its economic clout at an all-time high.

In their final communique, the G8 ministers also:

  • Called for aid to developing countries battling the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu

  • Pressed for more action to advance World Trade Organization talks aimed at opening up international trade

  • Vowed to step up the fight against networks which finance terrorism.

Russian energy boost

Correspondents say oil prices and energy security dominated Russia's first hosting of G8 policymakers - from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.

A man walking across a bridge over the Moskva river
These are bright times for the Russian economy

As energy importers, most of the G8 members are alarmed by the way oil and gas prices have been sent rocketing by record demand and political instability in places such as Iraq, Iran and Nigeria.

They have seen rising fuel prices stoke inflation, pushing up business costs and dampening consumer spending.

And they have noticed that rising energy prices have been good for Russia, which has big reserves of oil and gas.

Energy exports helped its economy grow by more than 6% last year.

These exports, and the other G8 nations' reliance on them, are increasingly enabling Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, to take a more aggressive stance on how the Russian economy is run.

This was reinforced last month by Russia's dispute with Ukraine over gas supplies.

It disrupted supplies in other nations downstream from Ukraine on the gas pipeline used to bring Russia's gas exports to the West.

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