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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 14, 1998 - Radio Australia)---A petroleum consultant with the South Pacific Forum, Alan Bartmanovich, says he is confident that all 14 Forum island nations will have cheaper oil prices within the next year, after talks with oil companies.

At present, oil companies use both the posted and spot prices on the Singapore market to charge Pacific nations, although spot prices have been about $1.50 a barrel cheaper in the last year, on average.

So far, several Forum countries -- including Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati -- already have concluded new pricing arrangements.

The Forum's Bartmanovich says oil companies have begun to realize that competition has reached the South Pacific, although they'll continue to make good profits.

"Even with these new negotiations and making less than they have been," he said, " I believe that they recognize that they're still making superior returns compared to Australia.

"The oil company executives have been fierce and tough negotiators and we respect them for that. We have no problem with that," the consultant added, "But they also realize that they have to be realistic and recognize and embrace what's happening in the world."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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