British Energy Secretary David Howell said that OPEC exporters in the Gulf region were generally hopeful there would be no oil price explosion in 1981 despite the Iraq-Iran war. He added that the Gulf countries had feared interruption to Iraqi and Iranian oil exports would trigger panic buying of crude oil by the West and Japan, as happened in 1979. "There is also a general feeling . . . whether the fighting goes on . . . Iraq and Iran will succeed in getting more oil out ," he said.