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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Are you worried about rising oil prices?
Ministers from Opec are set to meet in Amsterdam this weekend amid concerns over rising oil prices.

There has also been increased pressure due to factors such as uncertainty in Iraq and vast demand from the growing Chinese economy.

The UK's Chancellor, Gordon Brown has urged Opec to lower the cost of crude oil for the "stability and prosperity of the world economy".

What action should Opec take? Can oil prices be reduced? Whether you're a business or private motorist, how are you affected?


This debate has now finished. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

Considering the diesel engine was actually invented to run on any oil, mineral oil diesel has had quite a good run for its money, perhaps it's time to start investing in bio-diesel and alcohol fuel production.
Simon Rerrie, Birmingham, UK

Oil is not going to be here for ever. That's a certainty and we should stop complaining. We have two options: one is to change our lifestyles and get used to mass transport and make more use of our wonderful bicycles to move around short distances and the other option is to invest on finding other sources for driving our cars.
Ganesh, India, USA

It seems that a lot of Europeans say that everyone should ride their bikes. That would work well for European cities and the Northeast and Western United States, where houses are crowded together compared to other parts. In other parts of the country the situation is not the same. For instance, in suburban Atlanta, you have to travel at least a mile to get to a grocery store, more than that to get to a school. In some parts, there are no sidewalks. Therefore, bikes would be impractical in places such as this. Also, many Americans believe that owning cars gives them a sense of personal freedom.
Val Tocitu, Atlanta, US

The only way that the world will take alternative fuel options seriously is if the price goes up
Cameron Pitches, Auckland, New Zealand
I'm alarmed at the number of people - Gordon Brown included - that don't get it yet. High prices are being caused by demand exceeding the oil producing nations' ability to pump it out of the ground fast enough. There isn't anything OPEC can do - how do they lower prices? High prices for oil are here to stay and will only get worse. The only way that the world will take alternative fuel options seriously is if the price goes up.
Cameron Pitches, Auckland, New Zealand

It's amusing the read the hard-done American stories. I wonder how many people realise that the price difference from one side of the Pond to the other is 300%? Two bucks a gallon in the US, well over 6 bucks a gallon in the UK. I kid you not
Bennett, Cambridge UK and Syracuse NY, USA

Actually I would be happier if the oil price goes higher. I have a small car and it doesn't hurt me at all. It was time to see these SUV owners to pay more for what they have bargained for. What is wrong in having a small fuel efficient car?
A'hura, Toronto, Canada

I don't understand people from USA, people in Europe pay at least in two times more for fuel, and they are still alive. The increased prices are good for ecology, and I hope they will stimulate new researches of oil alternatives.
Oliver Horst, Frankfurt Germany

I am greatly affected by the rising cost of gas. While I am not one of over 50% of my fellow Americans that drive a truck, my large old style Cadillac gets a similar mileage, at around 15-17mpg city. It will soon cost more than 50 dollars to fill my tank, which lasts anywhere between 3 and 6 days. I wouldn't mind the higher gas prices if I felt that they were helping to move the world towards the use of hydrogen.
Will Bachrach, West Palm Beach, USA

Higher oil prices are a blessing
Kristian Mandrup, Denmark
I move around mostly on foot or by bicycle, bus or train - a low-stress, low-cost lifestyle. Higher oil prices are a blessing, because they curb the prodigal squandering of non-renewable energy resources. If you don't like the situation, then change your location and your lifestyle.
Trevor , Widnau, Switzerland

This is only the beginning... the world is quickly running out of cheap oil and there is nothing anyone can do about it. It is a simple matter of limits in a physical world, much to the surprise of economists and politicians who operate with models without any constraints to 2% yearly growth rates. Exponential growth is never possible in the long run in a finite physical world.
Kristian Mandrup, Denmark

I am delighted that fuel prices are on the increase, particularly in the US where the price of fuel only encourages the squandering of a very scarce resource. We only have 20-30 years of supply left. Time to realise that we need to change our usage patterns and find alternatives to oil. We should remember that we need oil for many things other than transport.
Graham Booker, France

I don't hear the same outcry from European environmentalists about the rapidly growing use of fossil fuels in China and India as I heard a year or two ago about America's consumption. What's the matter Europe, aren't their green house gas emissions as dangerous as those from the United States?
Mark, USA

I am pleased to see a rise in the price of oil. The time has come for us to change our energy infrastrucutre and move towards cleaner and more sustainable sources. People respond to incentives. The rise in prices is an effective incentive to facilitate the change towards alternatives.
Brent Jones, London, Canada

The sooner all cars operate with solar power roofs the better!
Matt, Sheffield

Don't have a car, bike, truck or any vehicle that relies on the internal combustion engine for locomotion, so no. Hope it goes up, up, up and forces the technology already available to come into main stream production/use.
Andrea Procta, UK, Salford

Rising oil prices will spur the development of environmentally safe fuel alternatives, so I hope they go through the roof.
Susan Sively, Brooklyn, New York, USA

The answer to high gas prices is reduction in personal gasoline consumption
Obaid, Shrewsbury, USA

I'm looking forward to the next petrol strike as the last one proved we didn't need cars as much as we think we did.
Neil Shaw, Doncaster, UK

Americans shouldn't complain, they have some of the world's lowest petrol prices.
Jin Li, Madrid, Spain

When will we adopt hydrogen! Generated by Nuclear power, it's the fuel of the future. You can burn it in SI engines or fuel cells and there is no green hous affect!! It requires the political will to make it happen, when my oil becomes too expensive.
Mark Howitt, Birmingham, UK

For years now, gasoline users in the USA have been paying what are probably the lowest prices in the world. Yet some of your comment writers in the States complain the loudest!
John, Seabright, Canada

The answer to high gas prices is reduction in personal gasoline consumption; taking the bicycle to the corner or grocery store, commuting to work on bicycle etc.
Obaid, Shrewsbury, USA

Considering the diesel engine was actually invented to run on any oil, mineral oil diesel has had quite a good run for it's money, perhaps it's time to start investing in bio-diesel & alcohol fuel production.
Simon Rerrie, Birmingham, UK
I would actually like to see an eventual elimination of oil use altogether
Ursula Arnold, Ann Arbor, USA

It's amusing to read the hard-done American stories. I wonder how many people realise that the price difference from one side of the Pond to the other is 300%? Two bucks a gallon in the US, well over six bucks a gallon in the UK. I kid you not. Are the UK population still sitting comfortably...?
Bennett, Cambridge UK and Syracuse NY, USA

I move around mostly on foot or by bicycle, bus or train - a low-stress, low-cost lifestyle. Higher oil prices are a blessing, because they curb the prodigal squandering of non-renewable energy resources. If you don't like the situation, then change your location and your lifestyle.
Trevor , Widnau, Switzerland

I don't understand people from the USA, people in Europe pay at least in two times more for fuel, and they are still alive. The increased prices are good for ecology, and I hope they will stimulate new researches of oil alternatives.
Oliver Horst, Frankfurt, Germany

I would actually like to see an eventual elimination of oil use altogether. I know that Americans already pay less at the pump than the rest of the world, but we also use a lot more oil than the rest of the world and something has to be done to change our gas guzzling ways.
Ursula Arnold, Ann Arbor, USA

Maybe another rise in oil prices will finally convince people that it's time to look seriously at greener alternatives before there's no oil left to argue about.
Laura, Oxford, UK

Why worry when everyone knows that Bush has a deal with the Saudis to lower oil prices just a few months before the election
Rob, Rochester, NY, USA

What is a "fair price" for a non-renewable resource? Oil is far too cheap at the moment, and the proof is the fact that we're wasting millions of barrels a day on unnecessary and polluting forms of transport. Higher prices, please, and better cycle lanes!
Pete, Paris, France

How about a system whereby the amount of tax fluctuates as well as the oil price, so that the pump price stays the same? This would reduce the threat of inflation and put more of the pressure back onto incompetent governments that fail to negotiate successfully with OPEC et al.
Alex, UK

Why worry when everyone knows that Bush has a deal with the Saudis to lower oil prices just a few months before the election. I also agree these SUV people should be forced to pay more. How about a yearly tax on these vehicles?
Rob, Rochester, NY, USA

This is just the first sign of the slow decline in oil availability. It was well predicted that as oil production passed its peak and demand began to outstrip supply, prices would inevitably rise. If you think $40 a barrel is bad , wait till it reaches $60, then $80 then $100 plus. The golden age of cheap and plentiful fuel is over, so we'd better get used to it.
Rob, Levin New Zealand

Emotionally as a non-driver and cyclist/pedestrian, I am delighted petrol prices are going through the roof. These SUV owners think they are rulers of the earth so it's nice to see a day of reckoning at the pump. Let 'em pay through the nose. I'd tack on a 200% surcharge on fuel for SUVs for starters.

Practically, however, I know that high fuel prices cost even nondrivers like me plenty in anything you buy as well as transport. In the end, the law of supply of demand will determine how much we pay for fuel.
Peter C. Kohler, Washington DC USA

This is an excellent time to aggressively pursue alternate forms of fuel
Dave, OKC, USA

You'd better believe I'm concerned! I'm on a tight enough budget as it is, and rising oil prices and gasoline prices are really starting to put a crimp in my finances. Why in the world are oil prices going up so high, anyway? Is OPEC really that money hungry? Charge a fair price and cut the little guy some slack!
Ryan, New Orleans, USA

Actually gas prices are at an all time low. When the costs are adjusted for inflation gas is cheaper now than it was when cars were first invented and all the time inbetween then and now.
Eric Anton, Wilmington, DE USA

It's simple. You feel the oil/petrol/gas prices are too high, dont buy it! The countries producing oil have the right to do whatever they want with it because it is "theirs"! That's why the US attacked Iraq to ensure stable oil supply.

You want more oil and stable prices, find your own or make other technologies such as 'hydogen fuel-cell' economical to be used by an average consumer! Until then, oil is an inelastic commodity and OPEC knows that better than anyone else. No matter what happens, we will continue to buy oil because we cant do without it!
Saad, Canada

I think this is an excellent time to aggressively pursue alternate forms of fuel. The likes of Hyrogen and other non-petrol fuels may presently be more expensive to refine and burn (not to mention retrofitting plants), but the effort now will not only help our children/grandchildren, but might also negate the motivation for mideast imperialism.
Dave, OKC, USA

The increased price doesn't bother me
Colin Smith, London, UK
No, the increased price doesn't bother me at all. My motorcycle (BMW F650CS) does 95 miles to the gallon and it costs me an extra 45 pence to fill it up.
Colin Smith, London, UK

I am affected badly, as I am in sales, and our car allowances have not been increased. I drive a small car with about 35 miles to the gallon, and I am paying more for gasoline, than I ever have in my driving career. I hope the prices will be reduced, but how and when is the million dollar question.
Jenna, Texas, USA

It is mind-bogglingly rich that the chancellor should be calling for the cost of crude oil to be lowered, when most of the cost of a litre of petrol goes directly into the coffers of the treasury which he oversees.
Dean Allison, Maidenhead, UK

In the short term, oil prices can probably be reduced, once the situation in Iraq stabilises. In the long term, however, increasing demand from industrialising countries like China, and the depletion of easily accessible oil reserves can only force the price of oil up.
Simon, Burton

Gas prices are way above average here in the US. It does not affect me much, because I drive a fuel efficient car. However, when I visit the pump I can see that the person with the tank like SUV there before me paid a hefty $60 to fill up. Ouch!
George, Nashville, USA





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