Delegates have, however, rejected the idea of increasing outpot, a move that could bring prices down.
 
Pier Luigi Bersani, Italy's outgoing development minister, said that the price of crude oil will affect inflation in nations that do not produce oil and are dependent on oil-exporting counties.

"The price of oil has had an impact on the inflation dynamic in many countries and it is reflected in part also on foodstuffs in general," he said.

"This dynamic will persist for all of 2008."

Losing profits

Scaroni, left, said profits had decreased [EPA]

Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of Eni, Italy's biggest oil and gas company, said that even the share of profits taken by governments of oil-rich nations had begun eating into the profits of international oil companies, and in many cases exceeded the capital costs of the companies.

Scaroni said that this made it difficult for international oil companies to survive in the global market and in turn had an impact on the end user.

"The average government share is now moving to overcome the critical barrier of 90 per cent, which means that oil companies' profitability is decreasing," he said.

"The balance of power between international energy companies and producing nations is changing, and not in our favour. Oil companies need to profoundly rethink their business model in order to survive and prosper."

The Italian minister also said that the share of global crude reserves held by international oil companies had dropped to six per cent, from 75 per cent in the 1970s.

Contributing factors

Manoucher Takin, from the Centre for Global Energy Studies, told Al Jazeera that global oil prices were decided by multiple factors.

"At the moment, the fundamentals are tight and this trend will continue for a while," he said.

Takin said that an extended winter in Europe and Asia had further complicated the situation.

"There has been an increase in the demand for diesel and heating oil in Europe and Asia because of an extended winter, this year.

"This demand has increased enormously over the last few months."

Takin said that it was the low level of crude oil inventories around the world that had made the international market panic.

"There is a very low level of inventory in oil and oil products, which is also another factor in the increase in the price of crude oil."

Takin attributed the falling value of the US dollar to a direct increase in the cost per barrel of crude oil.