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G20 ministers urge more energy security cooperation after tanker attacks

Karuizawa, Japan — G20 energy ministers on Sunday stressed the need for more international cooperation to ensure energy security in the wake of recent petroleum tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz, Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said Sunday.

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Speaking at a press conference after the end of the G20 energy ministerial meetings in Karuizawa, Japan, Seko said "the need for international community's cooperation for the world's energy security is placed highly," as part of measures including for recent attacks to tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

The attacks are not specifically mentioned in the final communique agreed to by all G20 energy ministers, but the statement stresses the importance of "reliable energy infrastructure to prevent energy supply disruptions" and "diversification of energy sources, suppliers and routes, facilitation of open, flexible, transparent, competitive, stable and reliable markets."

In his bilateral meetings earlier Sunday with Australian and Turkish energy ministers, Seko also stressed the need for international cooperation to respond to the ship attacks, which he described as "grave concerns" for global energy security.

The Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous were carrying cargoes including naphtha when the incident occurred Thursday. The incidents followed May 12 attacks on four tankers near the bunkering port of Fujairah.

Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid al-Falih said Saturday that the attacks have damaged global confidence in oil security, and he called for a "rapid and decisive response" to the threat to energy supplies.

International Energy Agency chief Fatih Birol said Friday that the IEA was very concerned about the attacks. He said IEA was ready to respond in the event of a supply disruption with a range of options, from providing members immediate policy advice to coordinating a release of emergency oil stockpiles.

The Strait of Hormuz is the most critical oil shipping route, especially for Asian energy importers, Birol said in an interview with S&P Global Platts in Karuizawa.

"Today about 18 million barrels of oil on a daily basis flows through this choke point coming from Saudi Arabia, emirates and other countries to China, Japan, India and other Asian customers."

"But at the same time it is a major route for LNG, liquefied natural gas. About 30% of LNG goes through this strait, coming again to Japan, South Korea, and other Asian countries."

--Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

--Takeo Kumagai, takeo.kumagai@spglobal.com

--Edited by Claudia Carpenter, newsdesk@spglobal.com