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Energy elite gather in the mountains

Chief executives from some of the world's largest oil companies, along with oil ministers, have gathered in the Norwegian mountains this week for an annual closed-door seminar. They were met Tuesday by environmentalists protesting a new field off the Norwegian coast.

Members of the group Nature and Youth (Natur og Ungdom) are unhappy about plans by Norway and several large oil firms to develop the "Snow White" field, fearing it will open up the Barents Sea to oil and gas development.

The oil executives, however, seemed happy to be in the snow-clad mountain hotel at Sanderstølen. The oil ministers of Great Britain and Norway were among those attending, along with top bosses from BP, Shell, Phillips Petroleum and Statoil.

The disgraced chief executive of bankrupt Enron, Kenneth Lay, also was supposed to take part, but he bowed out at the last minute. Lay, who formally resigned Tuesday from Enron and faces Congressional hearings on the bankruptcy scandal, would have had to face many companies that lost huge sums on the bankruptcy.

BP's chairman was due to speak, however, as was the head of Shell and the EU Commission's vice president, Loyola de Palacio.